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.

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