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ARSCLIST  May 2007

ARSCLIST May 2007

Subject:

Re: Mass Digitization

From:

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

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Fri, 18 May 2007 23:09:06 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (175 lines)

See end...
----- Original Message -----
From: "Karl Miller" <[log in to unmask]>
> "Andes, Donald" <[log in to unmask]> wrote: ***Also, most of what
Archeoloigists are looking for have wider appeal, since it connect dots in the
greater fabric of our existence.
>
> I would wonder about this. As one who is obsessed with music, I know I
cannot have any objective perspective. I must admit that I find it odd to think
that some pieces of pottery would have greater appeal to the public.
>
> ***Not to play the pessimist, but I find Libararies will be following
> records stores to their demise, and I question what can be done, so late in
the game to change the inevitable.
>
> I guess I believe that our major libraries will remain, but I often wonder
if they will not remain due to the unique materials that they may house. It
would seem logical that they can assume some museum function. I would like to
think of them as our Intellectual History Museums.
>
> Indeed, it will be most interesting to see how things play out in the next
few years. I am reminded of our thriving local CD shop. They do so well because
our town has such an active music scene and the owner of the store is most
generous to those who produce their own recordings. They have found their niche.
As I write this, I am reminded of the days of one of my favorite record stores
from the past, Music Masters. You could find the esoteric and people who knew
the stuff...and a place to sit down, listen and talk.
>
> ***I believe we COULD preserve it all, however, we (the archival
community)need to start putting more time into large scale cohesive planning and
lobbying for funding to support it, instead of running around crying that the
sky is falling.
>
> While I don't know if we could preserve it all, I do see progress with the
National Recordings Preservation Board and the efforts of the Librarian of
Congress. I believe it will take some highly articulate and informed marketing.
>
> Sometimes I think people just don't know. I often give talks to groups of
all sorts, mostly retired people. When I describe the situation there is always
some offer of support from the audience. Yet, with our new library director
abandoning audio preservation, I do not know where these offers of financial
assistance should be sent. While my situation may be unique, I find it
problematic that if even some of those entrusted with our intellectual history,
seem to be so disinterested in preserving it. I know I have written this many
times, but I still cannot get over the thought that less than 4% of the
Association of Research Libraries budgets is devoted to preservation...and yes,
I realize that most libraries see that their responsibilities reside elsewhere,
however...with the public looking elsewhere for it basic information needs, I
believe libraries need to exploit their uniqueness.
>
> ***at Google books is doing. I'm not in 100% agreement with the plan or it's
direction, but think of the scale. Think of what they set out to accomplish.
Strange, how no one IN the community thinks on this level.
>
> It is really quite amazing to me, not only the concept but the speed at
which they are working and how quickly they went from a concept to the
development of an infrastructure to implementation.
>
> I believe there are those within the community who think in such terms. My
best guess as to why no progress is made has to do with the fact that libraries
and archives have been, in the past, monopolies. There has been no incentive to
innovate. Now there is. I believe we are now seeing in the information biz, what
happens in business, the building of a parallel organization within the
marketplace.
>
> ***Like Google books, I'm sure those outside the industry will figure this all
out for us, whether the solution is fool proof or not. Regardless, it will just
verify that our industry is lost and behind the times, and our dismal salaries
are in line with what they should be.
>
> I can image the response you might get from much of the archival community,
but I will agree with you.
>
> ***Obviously migrating to avoid permanemt loss is manditory, but digitizing
analog reels in stable condition without connecting all the dots seems pointless
to me, which is why I advocate against it.
>
> Again, I agree.
>
> ***Marketing and PR are taken to be in opposition to public use and
non-profit, but the two can actually work had and hand quite nicely. The problem
goes back to re-identifying what libraries and archives are, what they could be,
and what they should be. When I was a kid, libraries didn't have any direct
competition beyond the local bookstore. But now with Wal-Mart, Barnes and Noble,
Blockbuster and Virgin Megastores competing in BOTH the brick and motar AND
online space it's no wonder the public isn't flocking to libraries. I myself
haven't found the need to go in years.
>
> Amen. And then we have the question, what would bring you into the library?
For me, it would be to experience, or access something that I could not get
anywhere else...hence I believe some of the future of libraries resides in the
past.
>
>
> *** But I understand, I'm in a niche, of a niche, of a niche. These recordings
connect the dots for a few very low key genres but do not register on the radar
of the public scope.
>
> Absolutely, but then do we not have a world where there is room for the
niche market. When the cost of delivery is reduced (although the cost of the
preparation of the product might still be high), can there not be a profit
margin for the more esoteric.
>
> ***Question: If we could look back in great detail on the times of any ancient
civilization, what would be more relivant: the tastes, and likings of the masses
(aka the Mozarts, Michalangelos, and
> Shakespeares), or the concerns and pickings of the trivial ubergeeks like
ourselves (obsure no name, short lived, fringe artists)?
>
> If you had asked that question ten years ago I would have said "the names."
However, now I don't know. I am reminded of a seminar where Copland was asked,
"are there more great composers living now than in the time of Beethoven?"
Copland replied, "well it seems to me that we have more people living today and
assuming that per capita there are as many composers living today as in
Beethoven's time, it would seem logical that there are just as many great
composers per capita today."
>
> For me, that says a great deal about information. Are we creating more good
stuff? Obviously the converse is like true. But not only do we have more stuff,
but it is easier to create stuff, and oddly enough, it is potentially more
problematic to keep the stuff long term. How all of this pans out in society is
curious to me. Will we be able to identify a "core" of the best known. Or will
we have a core of the best known, known by those who have interest in a
particular niche?
>
> ***EMI UK, does have a non-profit historic trust, and donates a wide variety
of older reordings and technologies to it. I am currently trying to establish
something here in the US along those lines, but cannot discuss it any more than
that.
>
> And indeed perhaps there is a great potential there, but then I wonder how
non-profit archives would retool to deal with such a potential influx of stuff.
>
> I will look forward to hearing more.
>
Well, I grew up in small-town Illinois. Waynesville (pop. 500) had, and
AFAIK still has, a public library (which was demolished by a tornado
in 1968). Since the village never had a book store, the library offered
access to current works (insofar as they could afford to buy them),
current periodicals and a selection of varyingly-obsolete books still
enjoyed by many of the patrons. As well, it served to some extent as a
local "archive" (mostly interrupted by the tornado), with bound copies
of the village's only newspaper covering much of its brief existence
(the paper, NOT the village!). If someone wanted "something to read,"
they visited the library (their only choice...!).

To me, a library SHOULD serve two functions. The first is to provide
its patrons with a selection of reading and/or reference materials
which should enable those parties to: (1) have "something to read"
should that urge strike them, and (2) find answers to any questions
they may have. There is also a third implied function (since, presumably,
no one else is doing so) of collecting and preserving details of local/
area history for future reference.

The question of value applicable to information (i.e. "is it 'good
stuff?'" can only be evaluated by our successors. We have NO idea
what they might consider useful or valuable...that depends on
their definitions and desires. It is entirely possible that by 2050
someone (from whom I have great pity...!) will have compiled and
published (whatever that may mean in 2050...) "The Complete
Discography Of '101 Strings'" including personnels and other
details. Keep in mind that we already have (and have had for
about a century or so...) the battle between "classicophiles"
and other fans of "lesser"(?!) musical genres!

So...is some local-interest neo-punk band, doomed to issue a
single CD of which about nine copies are sold before giving
up and abandoning music as a career, worth documenting in
detail? What if one of the members elects to stay with music
and later becomes part of a "superstar" aggregation?

Comment ca va...?

Steven C. Barr

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