A guide to the preservation of music and music libraries.


Edited by:

Sam Brylawski

Maya Lerman

Robin Pike

Kathlin Smith


Copublished by:

Association for Recorded Sound Collections

Council on Library and Information Resources

The Library of Congress

About This Guide

The guide aims to help public and private institutions, as well as individual collectors, that have sound recordings in their collections but lack the professional expertise in one or more areas to preserve them. The chapters that follow cover audio conservation and preservation, recorded sound formats and their associated risks, appraisal, related copyright issues, and disaster preparedness. The guide also offers advice on making informed decisions about digitization, as well as strategies for managing digital content.

The guide is an introduction to audio preservation principles and practices. Users of the guide will each have varying degrees of expertise, and varying goals and priorities. Readers may find certain chapters more relevant to their immediate needs than others. The guide is designed so that chapters may be read and understood individually or sequentially through the entire volume. The inspiration for this book is The Film Preservation Guide, created by the National Film Preservation Foundation. We are grateful to the foundation for providing this model and the high standards it represents.

For more detailed information and technical guidance than is included in this volume, there are excellent resources, many of which are cited in the pages ahead. As an introduction to audio preservation, this guide can only touch on certain technical topics, including the requirements for doing preservation reformatting in-house. The first resource to consult for more detailed technical information about audio preservation is the now-definitive guide to reformatting, Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects, published by the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives.

Digital preservation of audio is an evolving field, and best practices evolve as new technologies and tools are developed. To keep abreast of new developments, we encourage you to take advantage of the web pages, resources, discussion list (ARSClist), and tools offered by ARSC, the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Board, CLIR, and the web pages of vendors such as AVPreserve and Richard L. Hess.

As the Library of Congress National Audio Preservation Plan emphasizes, our success in preserving audio recordings will depend on collaboration. Our audio heritage is collective. It is held not by a few large organizations, but by hundreds, if not thousands, of institutions, large and small, and by individuals, all of whom bear the responsibility for ensuring that today’s, as well as yesterday’s, recordings are available for generations. If institutions and individual collectors work to implement best practices to every extent possible, we can meet the challenge. We hope that this guide will further the effort so that recordings so important to our lives today will enrich the lives of others tomorrow, and hundreds of years from now.