The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age



Acknowledgements ; Foreword ; Introduction and Summary ; 1. Sound Recording Collections: An Overview of Preservation and Public Access in the Twenty-first Century ; 2. Technical Issues in Digital Audio Preservation ; 3. Development of Curricula in Recorded Sound Preservation and Archives Management ; 4. Preservation, Access, and Copyright: A Tangled Web ; Appendix A. National Recorded Sound Preservation Study: Announcement of Study and Public Hearing (November 2006) ; Appendix B. Report of a Task Force Discussion to Define Prerequisites, Core Knowledge, and Graduate Educational Directions for Sound Preservation Professionals, and to Review an Annotated Bibliography of Audio Preservation Resources ; Appendix C. Obstacles to Access and Preservation of Recorded Sound ; Appendix D. Folk Collections in Crisis Report: Concluding Discussion and Recommendations.


This dense report (181 pages) describes the current state of sound recording collections in the United States (what’s been destroyed as well as what remains inaccessible) and the methodologies needed to preserve and provide access to the collections. It also addresses the needed curriculum to support sound recording preservation and identifies constraints to preservation and access resulting from complications arising from US copyright law.


This report was written to identify issues to be addressed in a forthcoming national plan to save the recorded sound legacy in the US. It addresses different audiences including audio engineers, academics, copyright stakeholders, policymakers as well as professional audio archivists. Although it is survey of the American landscape, the obstacles to preservation and access described and its emphasis on the need for a coordinated national response is relevant in other national contexts.

Beth Delaney