"Andes, Donald" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
***It's most likely that our Archeologist friends are better than we at
developing cost effective plans to achieve their goal, which may be
easier when justifying project costs against the collection of
"priceless" artifacts. It is also very possible that we're comparing
apples to oranges, as they most likely have very different funding
Over the years I have reviewed many grant applications for audio preservation projects. The content and methodology have ranged from well considered to the absurd. The question really that comes to my mind is the notion of cost effective. Grant funding is, by design, not predicated on notions of "cost effective." Also, very few proposals I have read, address questions of efficiency. It is my thinking that cost effective means that it can pay for itself. I believe that the copyrights in the US, and the very functionalism of libraries (free to the public) prevent libraries and archives from realizing substantive financial return for their efforts.
I guess I don't see that we are comparing apple and oranges, unless we choose to make such a differentiation. It seems to me that uncovering a fragment of a clay pot, is not unlike reclaiming a bit of audio. Once the "artifact" has been recovered, there is then the question of cataloging it and its preservation.
***2) The under appreciation/underpaying of Library and Archiving staff:
The world today (more than ever) comes down to profitability. Since
libraries don't make profits, it falls in line that there not going to
be handling out high paying jobs working for a Library. High paying jobs
can easily be had in the Finance, Legal, and Medical worlds. This has
been true for years, but for librarians the cold hard facts haven't
sunken in. Do I believe they should be paid more, of course I do. But do
I think they ever will, not in my lifetime.
I agree. I would also suggest that the available salaries for libraries will continue to decline due to the decline in use statistics. I believe it will be increasingly difficult for those charged with making budget decisions to justify library budgets. However, one needs to keep in mind that libraries and archives exist as "public utilities" of a sort. They are funded as we fund our fire departments. They are seen as serving a common good. Yet, indeed, as the funding of public utilities is being more subject to funding predicated on use, (toll roads being but one example) libraries are very likely to experience even more substantive reductions in public funding.
My thinking is that libraries seem to be trying to compete in areas where they have already lost. Libraries are trying to counter the defection to google and yahoo, by becoming movie theaters and snack bars.
On the other hand, I believe that libraries need to refocus their remaining resources more to the preservation of our intellectual history...being museums of a different sort.
***The fact is that we have massive amounts of history from the 1900's in
every field. Are we missing important stuff, sure we are. But the
unfortunate fact is that not enough people care enough about what's
missing. And more so, not enough profitability can be had from
collecting what was lost, to make it a worthwhile endeavor.
Indeed, that is my question, what can we realistically hope to preserve. Also tied into that question is the criteria used to decide what we should preserve. Who has those skills? What sort of training is needed?
***Think of it: That lost treasure of sound, that we thought the world
would never hear again. Suddenly found, in pristine condition....How
many downloads, CD's excetera could you possibly sell? Unless it the
Beatles or Elvis it's most likely a lot LESS than you would think.
Having my own record company and having issued historic performances, I have some practical experience. I can find no rationale for what sells and what does not.
I am often reminded of the interest in the music of Mahler. While there were a few of the faithful around when he died...consider the notion that since he was not given much credit as a composer when he died, nobody preserved his manuscripts. We now have a market for Mahler. It is difficult to second guess what product might find that "Tipping point" and what might not. Thankfully, Mahler's music has been preserved. How do you know there is a market for a product unless you have the product and make it available?
***3) Metadata concerns:
Here's the white elephant in the room. Everyone wants to
preserve/transfer/digitize, but guess what??? If you don't have a
complete and correct metadata standard in place, you'll probably do more
harm then good. Once things are transferred, the value of storing the
original drops (to the non archivist) and people assume that they'll
never need to go back to it. That is until, we try to understand what
the heck the file is, since your metadata seems spotty, and possibly
Again, I agree completely. While great work is being done in Music Information Retrieval, as for the metadata, libraries are having a rough time these days. I consider the aborted attempts to revise the cataloging rules. I believe it is time for a complete overhaul of cataloging (metadata preparation, description, and cataloging methodology). It is my hope that some enterprising company will come up with some highly efficient, less labor intensive, system for the creation of metadata, one that is so inexpensive that libraries will be forced into making changes.
I believe it is irrational to expect libraries to do it on their own. To abandon MARC voluntarily seems not only unlikely, but irrational...there is too much money invested in the old methodology.
4) Formatting/Migration issues:
Yikes. This was hiding being the white elephant called metadata. And
again, unless you figure this out UP FRONT, why bother digitizing?
I agree in part. While there are many valid points to be made to reformat recordings on stable media, I am a firm believer in addressing the media which is chemically unstable.
5) And finally to address your last statement:
I think the archiving world has it's blinders on, and needs to pull
back, rationalize a bit, and find it's place in the modern world of
business, technology, culture, and government. It's not effort or caring
that this industry lacks; it's scope, direction and rational.
Again, I agree.
I believe that the pressures from the private sector are forcing libraries and archives to reconsider their place in society. I would wager that many of us have plenty of good ideas as to how to significantly increase library productivity and perhaps even provide some cost recovery...and I am not taking about coffee bars...I wonder if there is anything that can be done from within the profession, or if we just need to sit back and wait for the changes to be forced from the private sector. I guess I just don't see libraries and archives taking the initiative to change...and sadly, I believe a great deal of our history stands to be lost in the process of waiting.
Sadly, I see libraries ignoring (I use the word ignore since such a small percentage of ARL member's budgets is devoted to preservation) what I see to be their greatest resource, their unique holdings.
Yet, for me, the question remains, is there some way to significantly realign priorities within libraries? It seems to me that the changes need to come from outside the preservation profession. The question is, what is the best marketing strategy and how do we go about mounting our advertizing campaign.
I used to wonder if part of the problem had to do with the way society views the role of music. Our copyrights seem to deal with it as a consumable. Yet I then consider how we have such things as a "Museum of Broadcasting." We seem to place some value on consumables. But do we place more value on "I Love Lucy" than we do on Perry Como...or "Omnibus" versus some of the more esoteric bits of our musical heritage. It would seem the answer is yes. Then the question comes to my mind, will Lucy be as valued 100 years from now as say an Omnibus program featuring Frank Lloyd Wright. I wonder...then, should the library and archive world be more concerned with what is not economically viable and leave that which has a potential for "cost recovery," to the private sector.
Should an organization like EMI, donate (the objects and the rights) whatever holdings it sees as having no revenue potential to the non-profit, public sector?