The Library of Congress and CLIR Release National Recording Preservation Plan

From a LC Announcement: The Library of Congress today unveiled “The Library of Congress 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 [...]

From a LC Announcement:

The Library of Congress today unveiled “The Library of Congress 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.

The National Recording Preservation Act of 2000 called on the Librarian of Congress to “implement a comprehensive national sound recording preservation program” that “shall increase accessibility of sound recordings for educational purposes.” The plan released today is the cumulative result of more than a decade of work by the Library and its National Recording Preservation Board, which comprises representatives from professional organizations of composers, musicians, musicologists, librarians, archivists and the recording industry.

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A web of interlocking issues currently threatens the long-term survival of our sound-recording history, from a lack of storage capacity and preservation expertise to rapidly changing technology and disparate copyright laws governing historical recordings. Major areas of the nation’s recorded-sound heritage have already been destroyed or remain inaccessible to the public.

Experts estimate that more than half of the titles recorded on cylinder records—the dominant format used by the U.S. recording industry during its first 23 years—have not survived. The archive of one of radio’s leading networks is lost. A fire at the storage facility of a principal record company ruined an unknown number of master recordings of both owned and leased materials. The whereabouts of a wire recording made by the crew members of the Enola Gay from inside the plane as the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima are unknown. Many key recordings made by George Gershwin no longer survive. Recordings by Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and other top recording artists have been lost. Personal collections belonging to recording artists were destroyed in Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

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Among the recommendations:

Create a publicly accessible national directory of institutional, corporate and private recorded-sound collections and an authoritative national discography that details the production of recordings and the location of preservation copies in public institutions; Develop a coordinated national collections policy for sound recordings, including a strategy to collect, catalog and preserve locally produced recordings, radio broadcast content and neglected and emerging audio formats and genres; Establish university-based degree programs in audio archiving and preservation and continuing education programs for practicing audio engineers, archivists, curators and librarians; Construct environmentally controlled storage facilities to provide optimal conditions for long-term preservation; Establish an Audio-Preservation Resource Directory website to house a basic audio-preservation handbook, collections appraisal guidelines, metadata standards and other resources and best practices; Establish best practices for creating and preserving born-digital audio files; Apply federal copyright law to sound recordings created before February 15, 1972; Develop a basic licensing agreement to enable on-demand secure streaming by libraries and archives of out-of-print recordings; Organize an advisory committee of industry executives and heads of archives to address recorded sound preservation and access issues that require public-private cooperation for resolution.

The recommendations were developed by task forces that included experts from public and private institutions across the country in the fields of law, audio preservation, library/archive management, business, digital technology and cultural history.

The plan recommends that the board take responsibility for shepherding the recommendations forward.

The report was co-published with the Council on Library Resources.

Direct to Full Text (89 pages; PDF)

HTML Version of Plan Available on CLIR Web Site

National Recording Preservation Plan by LJ’s infoDOCKET

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