No one ever said you HAVE to use CDs as a listening copy.  So, be 
creative in your attempts to combine easy user access and cost 
containment, and please share the results!

With the caveat about sound quality that Tom Fine made, there's no 
reason not to serve up MP3's in-house (if you put them on the web, you 
start running into lots of copyright issues, and I'm not going to go 
there in this post).

As much as I've drunk the Apple kool-aid (my home computer is a Mac 
laptop, and I own several iPods), I would advise against using an iPod 
if you're trying to keep costs low.  (1) They're expensive for the 
amount of memory space you're getting.  (2) You have to use proprietary 
software to load them, run them and keep them running.  That software is 
currently free and widely available, but who knows about 5 years from 
now.  (3) The batteries run down and are not replaceable, and the entire 
units wear out/break, and are not easy (if even possible?) to fix.  I 
have a 2 1/2-year-old iPod sitting unused in my desk at home right now 
because the hard drive keeps failing and even the Apple "Geniuses" can't 
make it work.

I would ask myself what you really want to achieve.  If you want your 
users to be able to work out while listening to your audio, then, yes, 
iPods or something similar are probably the answer.  If you just don't 
want to deal with the space and bother of hundreds of CDs, then I'd look 
into setting up a listening station that looks more like a regular 
computer.  You can hook up a dummy terminal to your LAN, or have a 
stand-alone desktop unit for about the same price as an iPod (or less, 
especially if you buy used from a University or somewhere similar), and 
you'll have much more options now and in the future.  If you want 
slightly more portability, you could set up a laptop with wireless 
(getting more expensive here), with a long wire, or just running off the 
hard drive.

Good luck, and keep us posted!

Christie Peterson
Project Archivist, Muskie Archives & Special Collections
Bates College
70 Campus Avenue
Lewiston, ME 04240-6018
 (t) 207-753-6918
 (f) 207-755-5911

Farris Wahbeh wrote:
> Is this audio archival transgression? Do we need to use CDs as a listening copy, or can an MP3 
> suffice. I'm trying to cut down on space and costs.