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The Day the Music Didn't Die: Digital Audio Preservation at MIT Libraries

Title (author1): 
First names (author1): 
Thomas J.
Surname (author 1): 
MIT Libraries
Other authors: 
Nancy McGovern, Kari Smith, Tricia Patterson, Peter Munstedt, Liz Andrews, Cate Gallivan
Presentation type: 
spoken paper
1 Oct Thursday
Start time: 
1 030
Grand Auditorium

Preserving and making accessible audio and video music recordings is currently a focus of MIT Libraries Curation and Preservation Services, Institute Archives and Special Collections and Lewis Music Library. The MIT Libraries own approximately 2,000 uncataloged analog sound recordings that document MIT music history. Many of these recordings consist of reel-to-reel and audiocassette tapes. In July 2013, a digital audio initiatives project was established at MIT in order to save these music recordings, beginning with materials from the Herb Pomeroy collection which is comprised of 13 boxes of recordings from the influential jazz trumpeter and music educator. A team was assembled with the goal to inventory, digitize, preserve, and facilitate access to these materials.

In September 2014, an IMLS grant-funded National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) resident joined this team to focus primarily on digital audio preservation and to document the detailed life cycle workflow for the preservation of all digital audio content, building on a high-level workflow already in place. The diagrammatic and narrative workflow documentation works as a foundation for a digital content management program. The team also evaluated suitable options for an access platform, including the Avalon Media System. This presentation will examine the work from inception to its current phase, with emphasis on the digital preservation workflows designed for the program. We will provide advice and recommendations to other music libraries and archives with similar sound recording backlogs.