On Mon, 22 May 2006, Scott D. Smith wrote:
> And I must sadly agree that Peter is correct in his assessment of the
> situation regarding finding experienced engineers who have the knowledge
> and fortitude to take on some of the more challenging restoration and
> preservation tasks that come along in the course of dealing with old,
> damaged, and obsolete material.
I would wager that many of us doing this work grew up at time when reel to
reel tape machines and turntables were part of the normal process of
audio. When I was a kid I tinkered with my grandmother's wire recorder and
was used to playing 78s and recording discs. As long as we have materials
recorded in those older formats, knowledge of those formats will remain
Unfortuately, this sort of knowledge is not considered worthwhile. The
other day I had a request for a quote (I maintain a business apart from my
University job) for some simple transfers of cassettes to CDs. Why this
could not be done in house seems odd to me.
Further, I work for a library director who sees no value in the skills
required to do such work, or in the need to pass along those skills to a
I wish I could be optimistic about things, but...yesterday a friend of
mine told me that the Philadelphia Orchestra cut the archivist position
out of their budget...is this true.
Then...a pianist on my label wrote the school where she got her graduate
degrees and asked for copies of the recitals. They sent her the master
tapes...no backups...it was as though they didn't care about the recorded
history of their school...aren't they required by law to keep
documentation of the degrees they grant...
> Despite that ready availability of information on the internet, I am
> astonished at the lack of knowledge displayed by some of those who are
> engaged in the field of "audio restoration". And I'm not talking about
> the "do it yourself" home enthusiast with a Teac tape deck and a Dell
> laptop. I mean staff who are engaged at commercial facilities and
While I don't think of myself as an engineer...I am reminded of some discs
brought to me...a "qualified" vendor couldn't get any sound out of the
discs. Turned out they were vertical cuts.
> These kinds of sad stories will continue unless there is a concerted
> effort on the part of institutions and archives to raise the funds
> necessary to train staff in the evaluation and processes involved in
> dealing with various recorded materials, as well as attracting some of
> the few people we still have left with us that understand the details of
> the many recorded mediums that we now have (I'm talking about those that
> don't exist on a hard drive) While there have been some great papers
> published on the subject, we have a long, long way to go in implementing
> the recommendations they contain.
Yes we do...and for me, not only is it the technical knowledge, but, when
dealing with the restoration of a music recording, the artistic knowledge
and abilities as well.
> Back to what Mike originally said, given the current state of affairs, I
> must say that I'm not holding my breath for any attention to be lavished
> on the problem at the federal or state funding level anytime soon.
> (Beyond what already is being done at NARA and the LOC)
> Sorry for the long post... 'nuff said.
As far as I am concerned, it wasn't a long post...while I know most of
mine are! I don't think enough has been said, nor do I believe enough has
been done, yet I wonder why...basically because there are not enough
economic incentives (lets face it, the law keeps there from being
any)...not a powerful enough lobby...not a good salesperson...not enough
visability...or, perhaps it is as I fear, not seen as being sufficiently relevant
to our society.
Why libraries see it important to digitize public domain published books
remains a mystery to me. Is it because they are public domain and scanning
a book is easier and seen as being less expensive and adds to their
"statistics"...well we scanned x number of books this year and it cost us
only $x when to save 100 hours of audio would require an equivalent
expenditure...plus libraries and archives don't have the expertise to do
the job right...and I am not saying libraries know what they are doing
when it comes to scanning either...is it because there is public domain
material they can host on the web to provide a demonstration of how many
"hits" they get in a year...
I guess one needs to start out by selling the notion that expertise is
necessary...can an automated tape duplicator tell us if signal loss was on
the tape, or the result of dropout produced by a buildup of oxide on the
Then, as the cylinder project has done so very well...more projects which
tell people the treasures that there are...but then, with our
current laws, there is so little that archives can share...the Catch 22.
It is a rough road...unless we can find a significant benefactor...and if
we did, what would we do with the money...I know what I would do, but I
welcome your thoughts...