Archiving Guidelines

Here a few helpful links and resources that can be used to provide guidelines for the archiving and storage of both digital and physical sound files.

Online Sound Archiving

The International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) released the second edition of an online publication – Guildines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects (IASA-TC 04) – in 2009, which is described as ‘an accepted authority on digital audio preservation in the sound archiving field.’ It is informed by their other publication,  ‘The Safeguarding of the Audio Heritage: Ethics, Principles and Preservation Strategy’ (IASA-TC 03). When researching guidelines for the online archiving of sound, the term metadata is often mentioned and this is the largest part of the edition that was revised for re-publication, stressing the importance of extra information being attached to the sound file, describing the location the sound was recorded, the artist, the date, etc and other technological information. Another issue often raised is the need for music files to be able to transcend the changes in technology; i.e. once archived, they are still able to be played back in the long term, due to support for new media or data formats – as in conjunction with OAIS.

Chapter 7, Small Scale Approaches to Digital Storage Systems, is of particular use because it contains straightforward information for smaller would-be archives, such as those wishing to archive East African music, concerning both the digitisation of audio or the online storage of the data.

It cites two viable options for open repository software, which are basically softwares that allow organisations to give access to their data. The first is DSpace, “very popular and widely adopted repository within the higher education and research sectors, although knowledge of its use within the museums and cultural heritage sectors is limited but growing.”[1] The second is FEDORA. However, it is clear that to set up an online data repository, to be used as an archive, substantial technological knowledge is needed – but this guide is most definitely a great help for gaining understanding of all the issues needed be considered when setting up an online music archive.

Storage of Audio Materials

Guidance for the care, handling and storage of audio visual materials can be found on the Library of Congress website. The guidelines for storage aim to preserve the life of the grooved discs and cylinders, optical discs, and magnetic tape, which have chemical instabilities that could be affected by adverse storage conditions. It is particularly useful because it demonstrates the differences needed in the specifics of storage for different types of establishments; homes and institutions, with materials that need to be preserved for differing lengths of time. It also provides information to be passed on to guests of the archive wishing to play materials.

Advice can also be found on the Council on Library and Information Resources website. Section 5 of a report, Magnetic Tape Storage and Handling: A Guide for Libraries and Archives, provides a lot of information on specifically long term storage of magnetic tape.

A report from UNESCO in 1988, which was presented at an IASA conference, also gives details on the type of information that should be stored about the sound clip – however, it is clear that since then the focus has been more on digital archives.


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