October 2008

Public broadcasting is one of my main methods for keeping up with the news and current events outside of my very library-centric universe. I listen to local radio programming, and I listen to NPR via satellite (was there life before satellite radio?) and online. I know that many people have used public radio as an information resource in the past as well. What is happening with all the archived programs from the local stations? While researching my proposal, I discovered Pacifica Radio online. An excerpt from their website reads:

Chronicling the political, cultural and artistic movements of the second half of the 20th century, Pacifica radio programs include documentaries, performances, discussions, debates, drama, poetry readings, commentaries and radio arts.

The collection contains interviews with individuals like John Coltrane and Alan Arkin in the 1960’s and FDR’s fireside chats in the 1940’s. Unfortunately, these resources are not freely accessible. CDs and tapes of the programs are for purchase. They also have a unique Adopt-a-Tape program where individuals can select a program and donate funds towards its restoration. With these contributions, individuals receive three copies of that program.

I recently watched a fascinating PBS Frontline documentary on the two main presidential candidates this year. Though I have been monitoring their positions on topics that are meaningful to me, there was a lot of background information on these two men in this presentation- information that I had not gathered elsewhere and information that I think informs who they are today. I couldn’t find this one, but Frontline does have a collection of videos online (for free!).

And, just for fun, I caught a reference to this library book domino collection from a Stephen Abram podcast.

While researching my project proposal, I found several best practices and standards for the preservation of sound resources. Although different organizations will have varying resources and skills available to assist in preservation of audio materials, these practices and standards can help guide an organization in these efforts.

The Association of Research Libraries Sound Savings: Preserving Audio Collections details their project at the Library of Congress. Significant points made here include: the lifespan of media, copy quality (loss), and obsolescence. They remark on the short lifespan of magnetic tape, the loss of quality with analog to analog copying, and the decline in manufacturing of analog-tape media and recording devices. Their work involves the production of digital masters stored, not on CDs or DVDs, but in “media-less” digital repositories. Based on six factors, they decided on PCM sampling, uncompressed and WAVE file format for audio file masters. They discuss “word length,” or bit depth, and sampling frequency and arrive at 96 kilocycles and 24-bit word length for their audio masters. And, they outline the equipment and professional skills as well as the descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata used in the project.

The Arts and Humanities Data Service Creating Digital Audio Resources A Guide to Good Practice is another resource for audio collection preservation information. There is an overview of audio file formats and storage media that includes strategies for back-up.

The Library of Congress National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) has a collection of resources for sound (and other digital formats) at their Sustainability of Digital Formats web site. The sound resources are divided into quality and functionality factors, preferences, curation, and format description. Rendering, bit stream encoding, and file types are considered in these sections.

I began my project proposal a few weeks ago, but I’m able to really dig into it now that I’ve taken the comps exam. I finalized the goals and objectives for the proposal this morning and found a couple of resources that helped guide my decisions. The University Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides a comprehensive list of goals and objectives for their Digital Services and Development Unit. Also, I knew that I wanted to tie one of the goals to the overall mission of public broadcasting and found the Corporation for Public Broadcasting mission here. I read an article, Accelerating Learning & Discovery: Refining the role of academic librarians, while studying for comps that led me to this goal. Though specific to academic libraries, Dillon makes several interesting points about the future of libraries. One point he makes is that it is necessary for academic libraries to align their mission with the mission of the university they serve. I think this point can be extended to different types of libraries. Both special and public libraries might consider how their mission “amplifies” the mission of their primary funding agencies.

I reread my highlights and notes from some of Taylor’s The Organization of Information today. I was reassured to note that “even among information professionals, metadata concepts can appear complex and confusing.” She points out that metadata concepts and categories are “intertwined” and “somewhat fluid,” making my attempts to separate them- in order to understand them better- seem less valuable. I attempted to amend my visual, adding data values, adding relationship arrows, and changing to standards like xml, but I felt that I was mucking it up more.

For anyone considering the Omeka application, have you looked at their listed core fields? For anyone considering public broadcasting metadata, you might take a look at the Public Broadcasting Metadata Dictionary Project. As I am unfamiliar with broadcasting terms, I’m finding the metadata examples helpful.