By Kelly Hangauer
Back again with The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan discussed in the last post. When I read through this information the first time, I marked ideas or “recommendations” made by the authors that caught my attention. I was struck by the fact that the Library of Congress has nearly “3.5 million recordings that embody more than 120 years of audio history.” What the authors suggest though, is that the digitized audio is not reaching enough researchers. In order to make these recordings more accessible, a centralized network is needed.
As an independent musician, I thought it was especially interesting how the Library of Congress recognized the realities of independent musicians today. The writers illustrate the fact that artists are tending to not copyright their music, and are oftentimes not manufacturing hard copies of the music. More and more, music is disseminated online through the channels of BandCamp, Soundcloud, and Spotify. The Library of Congress personnel who authored the National Recording Preservation Plan suggest that the Library of Congress should form working relationships with record labels and other music industries to ensure that engineers are recording music in such a way that it can be preserved. Considering the amount of music out there, a multilateral approach is needed.
Now, you may ask, how does one preserve audio? Well the answer is complex but essentially it entails creating a digital file from a record, reel-to-reel, tape, CD, or any other format of sound. The digitization process involves a set of best practices and standardizations one should adhere to in order that the digital file be as sturdy as possible. Once the archival digital file is created, upkeep from archivists is necessary to ensure its longevity.
If you are interested in learning more about this, go ahead and download The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan.
By Kelly Hangauer
One of the readings I was responsible for during my internship was The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan. This booklet, released in December 2012, sets forth an ambitious plan for preserving the audio heritage of the United States, and addresses many of the obstacles to this process. I found the reading to be very technical, but also quite interesting. Early on, the authors bring up the idea of a National Directory that would act as a central database for all recorded sounds. Having a centralized database like this would enable sound archives, like the Marr Sound Archives, to know which records and historical broadcasts have already been digitized by other institutions. Not only would this help to organize all of the audio information out there, but it would allow sound archivists to better prioritize the digitization of their collections. This is an especially important issue considering that many really old recordings are beginning to breakdown, and archives are often overwhelmed by large workloads and underfunding.
Also of interest is the way in which the book highlights the obstacles created by federal legislation. There is a federal copyright law that allows libraries and archives to copy audio recordings since 1972, but due to some strange nuances of the law, pre-1972 recordings are under a different copyright. Because of these issues, it is difficult to obtain permission to preserve pre-1972 recordings which happen to be the very ones that need it the most. Furthermore, these confusions make it more difficult to obtain funding for large preservation projects.
The meditation on this reading will continue in the next post.
By Autumn R. Neal
The introduction video to the Edgar Snow Project was always meant to have narration and I knew from the beginning that I did not want to record the audio myself. It would be awkward hearing your own voice over and over as you’re trying to perfectly edit an audio track. Initially, I thought I’d ask one of my classmates to record it until I had a groundbreaking idea. Actually, it wasn’t groundbreaking and I should have thought of it long before I did. My good friend, Erika Baker, is a theatre actress in local Kansas City theatre so I asked if I could hire her in exchange for some baked goods. I already had some audio editing software and an external microphone so she came over and after a couple practice runs we had a nice audio track.
In reality, we had some technical difficulties and, in the end, recorded one long track full of errors and laughter which I edited out later. I’ve been working on layering the voice and music tracks and attempting to artfully match them up with the scrolling photos. Over the past few weeks, I had tried to have a couple other people record the audio but it didn’t work out. Throughout those attempts though, I learned that a lot of people in their mid-twenties do not know who Mao Zedong is and don’t know how to pronounce his name. Granted, they weren’t history majors, but I think he’s a pretty important historical figure. Is this an example of why we need public history?
By Autumn R. Neal
I thought the Edgar Snow Project intro video would be more interesting with an audio track of traditional or semi-traditional Chinese music so I’ve been looking for some recently. In Digital History last semester we learned that you can’t use just any audio track even if you give the author credit. I’ll try to explain it, but I am not an expert in this area so bear with me. The majority of music, photos, films, and any other created products are under copyright. If you want to use them you have to purchase a license which can cost a ton of money.
However, there is an organization called Creative Commons which allows people to create and share their digital products under their own terms. Some of these items can’t be used for commercial means unless you purchase a license, but some can be used as long as you don’t build upon them (using audio in a video with scrolling images would be considered building upon them) and others can be used, edited, and built upon in any way as long as you credit the original author. There are a lot of sites with CC music, but you’ll have to sort through a lot of tracks in search of the perfect one. If you’re interested in reading more about copyright, check out my blog post “No One Can Do to Disney, Inc. What Walt Disney Did to the Brothers Grimm”.