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Hi Melissa,

When my colleagues and I have raised this question on our campus, we've also
been given the suggestion of a set dollar amount per item, based on the
replacement cost of the carrier.  Of course, replacing unique recordings with
blank legacy media sort of misses the point!

An alternative idea I've been playing with lately is to try to estimate what it
would cost to recreate the content of the recordings -- or rather, something
analogous to the original content of the recordings, since an actual recreation
is often not possible (people have died, situations have changed, etc.).  So, if
a particular collection is the result of a year of fieldwork, what would it cost
to send another researcher to that location for a year, make the appropriate
arrangements and create a similar set of recordings?  But figuring out what that
cost would be for a large number of field collections from a variety of places
could quickly turn into a major task, so one solution might be to try to boil it
down to the average cost per week/month/year of fieldwork.

I realize this is less helpful if your content is mainly oral histories that
didn't require significant expense to create, and that it somewhat arbitrarily
assigns more value to recordings made far away or under difficult or costly
circumstances, than to those made closer to home.  But it is one way to try to
capture the replacement value of the content, rather than the carrier.

However, I should emphasize that I haven't actually tested this idea yet with
the insurance folks.  In fact, it was mainly intended as a way to provide a
meaningful response to the folks in Development the next time they ask what that
newly-donated field collection is "worth."

I wonder (and I'm musing here -- maybe someone who's thought more about this can
chime in) if another way to assess financial value in unique recordings might be
in terms of what it would cost to create and maintain the appropriate number of
(geographically distributed) digital surrogate backups.  The logic here is that
if a disaster were to destroy your original recordings, a prior investment of $X
would assure a reasonable chance that you'd be able to replace the content with
an exact duplicate.  Not that getting the money to digitize and store the
recordings is going to be of any use *after* the flood/fire/earthquake has taken
its toll!

Best,
Aaron

--
Aaron M. Bittel
Archivist-Librarian/Digital Projects
UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive



On Tue, 2017-03-14 at 10:24 -0400, Melissa Hernandez Duran wrote:
> Hello,
> 
> Our university Risk Management office is asking us to provide a value
> amount for unique archival recordings in our collections (several thousands
> of them) for insurance purposes. They have suggested we think about how
> much it would cost to replace these items if they were lost or damaged.
> Because they are mostly unique/ unpublished material these are
> irreplaceable. Another suggestion was to apply a set dollar amount per item
> for everything in the collection. Does anyone have experience or
> suggestions on assigning monetary value to archival  media collections?
> 
> Best,

On Tue, 2017-03-14 at 10:24 -0400, Melissa Hernandez Duran wrote:
> Hello,
> 
> Our university Risk Management office is asking us to provide a value
> amount for unique archival recordings in our collections (several thousands
> of them) for insurance purposes. They have suggested we think about how
> much it would cost to replace these items if they were lost or damaged.
> Because they are mostly unique/ unpublished material these are
> irreplaceable. Another suggestion was to apply a set dollar amount per item
> for everything in the collection. Does anyone have experience or
> suggestions on assigning monetary value to archival  media collections?
> 
> Best,