Audio Preservation Resources

We connect collection stewards, funders, and policymakers to up-to-date, useful, and reliable information about the state of recorded sound preservation, care and handling for
long-term stewardship of analog audio media, and planning for the digitization of audio materials.

As articulated by the National Recording Preservation Plan, “The Foundation should provide guidance to grant-making organizations on technical issues, as well as on legal issues related to the provision of public access to sound recordings preserved by grant funds” (73).

Resources

The following resources represent useful items that we have encountered through our work, or that have served as beneficial to our grantees. This list was originally compiled by Gerald Seligman in 2016, but we make frequent updates. If you would like to be included in this list, we are happy to include any resources that are openly available and rights-honoring. Please use our contact link.

Preservation Guides Resources

  • ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation A comprehensive guide to Audio Preservation, co-edited by NRPF Director Sam Brylawski, was published by ARSC (Association for Recorded Sound Collections), CLIR (Council on Library and Information Resources) and the Library of Congress. The Guide was made possible through funding from the National Recording Preservation Board, along with contributions from CLIR and an anonymous donor. This 200+ page publication is a primer for the non-specialist (collectors, archivists at universities, libraries and historical societies) and provides a range of advice on preserving many kinds of audio recordings.
  • Vintage Audio Format Identification A guide from the Library of Congress with visual examples to aid in identifying a range of legacy audio formats.
  • Audio Preservation (Conservation OnLine) A list of resources compiled by the PARS Recording and Photographic Media Committee of the American Library Association.
  • Sound Directions Project (Indiana University) This project presents the results of research and development carried out by the Sound Directions project with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The initial Sound Directions project was a joint technical archiving project between the Indiana University Archives of Traditional Music and the Archive of World Music at Harvard University.
  • Essential Resources for Audio Preservation (Association for Recorded Sound Collections Technical Committee)
  • Preserving Sound Recordings (American Folklife Center)
  • The National Archives Audio Preservation Lab
  • National Recording Preservation Board The NRPB comprises representatives from professional organizations of composers, musicians, musicologists, librarians, archivists and the recording industry.
  • National Recording Preservation Plan A blueprint for saving America’s recorded sound heritage for future generations, the congressionally-mandated plan spells out 32 short- and long-term recommendations involving both the public and private sectors and covering infrastructure, preservation, access, education and policy strategies.

Professional Organizations

  • Association for Recorded Sound Collections ARSC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and study of sound recordings, in all genres of music and speech, in all formats, and from all periods. ARSC is unique in bringing together private individuals and institutional professionals—everyone with a serious interest in recorded sound.
  • Audio Engineering Society The AES is the only professional society devoted exclusively to audio technology. Founded in the United States in 1948, the AES has grown to become an international organization that unites audio engineers, creative artists, scientists and students worldwide by promoting advances in audio and disseminating new knowledge and research.
  • Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations CCAAA provides a shared platform for nine membership-based organizations wishing to cooperate on influencing the development of public policy on issues of importance to professional audiovisual archivists
  • International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives IASA was established in 1969 in Amsterdam to function as a medium for international co-operation between archives that preserve recorded sound and audiovisual documents. It has members from 70 countries representing a broad palette of audiovisual archives.
  • National Association of Broadcasters
  • Society of American Archivists Audio and Moving Image Section The roundtable includes members of the Society of American Archivists who are interested in the preservation and management of audio and audiovisual collections. The roundtable serves as a forum for discussing archival issues related to the creation, management, preservation, and use of audio and audiovisual resources in archives and other cultural heritage repositories.
  • Inside the National Recording Registry. Each year, the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress chooses 25 recordings to be preserved for all time. Inside the National Recording Registry, produced by Ben Manilla Productions, highlights some of those selections.
  • Edison Sound Recordings (National Park Service) A selection of Edison recordings from the Thomas Edison National Historical Park archive in MP3 format, arranged by genre. The content of the recordings is mostly music, covering many different genres popular in the United States during Edison's era.
  • Library of Congress Online Audio Collections (Library of Congress Recorded Sound Reference Center) The Library of Congress provides access to a portion of its audio collections through the Recorded Sound Reference Center's web page.
  • Public Radio Exchange (PRX) PRX is is an award-winning public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring compelling content to millions of people.
  • radiOM.org (Other Minds) Other Minds, Inc., is dedicated to the encouragement and propagation of contemporary music in all its forms through concerts, workshops and conferences that bring together artists and audiences of diverse traditions, generations and cultural backgrounds. The material featured on radiOM.org is gleaned from thousands of hours of audio recordings from KPFA-FM radio in Berkeley (1949-1995), and concerts and talks produced by Other Minds in San Francisco (1993-2005).
  • Smithsonian Folkways Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is the non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, dedicated to supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among peoples through the documentation, preservation, and dissemination of sound.
  • The 78 Project A documentary and recording journey inspired by Alan Lomax that brings the spirit of his work into the present as breakthrough musicians are paired with the songs and the fascinating recording technology of the past. With just one microphone, one authentic 1930s Presto direct-to-acetate disk recorder, and one blank lacquer disc, musicians are given one take to cut a record anywhere they choose.
  • The National Jukebox A project of the Library of Congress, the National Jukebox makes historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge. The Jukebox includes recordings from the collections of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation and other contributing libraries and archives. When it launched, the Jukebox included more than 10,000 recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925.