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ARSCLIST  December 2006

ARSCLIST December 2006

Subject:

Re: Digitizing libraries (more complete...)

From:

"Steven C. Barr(x)" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 14 Dec 2006 19:59:19 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (79 lines)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Karl Miller" <[log in to unmask]>
>   If we think of libraries as "brick and mortar,"  libraries are more about
history than current information.
>
This statement needs a fair amount of expansion!

The contents of a "brick and mortar" library, of course, will include
current items (the day's newspaper, current issues of periodicals,
volumes on "best-seller" lists, usw.)...recent items (newspapers from
previous days, which users often seek; "back issues" of periodicals;
books which are not recent but also are not so old as to be dangerously
obsolete, usw.)...and historical items (archives of newspapers/periodicals
for reference use; out-of-print volumes ditto, usw.) Further, this
applies (or should) to all varieties of materials included in the
library's holdings...sound recordings, images, moving images, even
archived broadcast material.

Note that different users visit the library to access ALL of these
classes of held items, depending on their needs! If I'm seeking work,
I will want to see the want-ad section of today's newspaper; if I
want to check an article that appeared last month, I will want to
see that issue; and if I'm looking up my family's (or other)
history, I will want to see archived material...perhaps from the
19th century. However, in the first (and usually the second) case,
I will have to look at an actual ink-and-paper document (in most
cases, since the newspaper may have a "web presence" that makes it
digitally accessible when...or before...it is printed...!). In
the last case, I won't expect to see an actual physical copy of
the item (which would probably be too fragile for use anyway!)
but a micro-wotever copy of it.

Now, access to the actual physical item in question is virtually
NEVER required (maybe for some legal battles...?!). I can find
the article, or ad, or whatever just as easily in micro-* or
digital form (in fact, I can probably find it faster and easier
in the latter...?!) as I can in the item itself. What I am
looking for, in 99.9%+ of cases, is the INFORMATION which the
item provides! The actual item itself provides no more information
(except, possibly, some distantly-related information about how
it was created...?).

As a collector of a half-vast archive of 78rpm records, I hold
the items themselves for three reasons:

1) It happens to be a personal idea/fixation of mine...

2) Often, the sonic contents aren't available in any other form.

3) The disc usually contains ancillary data (matrix/take/stamper
data, physical characteristics that confirm or deny my guesses,
label differences, usw...) that a copy of its sonic contents
does NOT!

There is little that can be done about #1...but #2 and #3 could
(though probably never will) be corrected.

I believe there exists a neccessity for at least ONE institution
to preserve the actual physical originals...the collected items
themselves. This institution should not allow ANY access to its
holdings unless it is *absolutely* necessary, since almost all of
its holdings will be 1) irreplaceable and 2) extremely fragile.
In fact, in many cases, some sort of special storage will be
required to ensure preservation!

Once that exists, the originals can be transferred (often by
sale?) to individuals who wish to own them for whatever reason.
Meanwhile, digital copies (as accurate as reasonably possible,
and in no case restricting access to the contents) can be made
available to all the "sub-institutions" (to create a term here)
to be made available to their users/patrons.

Note that this could lead to individual access being made via
high-speed digital connections (perhaps one per user, like
most of our Internet access...?). As well, provisions might
have to be made for some sort of payment...details TBA...

Steven C. Barr

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