By ERIN ALLEN
Following the Library’s Sept. 29 release of a major study on sound preservation, co-author Sam Brylawksi was interviewed by a number of media outlets about the report titled “The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age.” (See Information Bulletin, October 2010.)
“I don’t want to be alarmist, but there are things we just have to be concerned with, particularly in the digital age,” he told Neal Conan of National Public Radio (NPR). NPR’s Rob Bamberger co-authored the report.
“Preservationists have a neat little word they use called LOCKSS—Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe,” Brylawski continued. “There’s not a single recommended way, hard drive or CD-R or other backup tape, but your just should have several of them.”
“‘Born-digital’ audio—things that are disseminated on the Internet through websites or podcasts—are at great risk,” Brylawski told BBC. “We need to be able to have a process to harvest them and sustain the files.”
“I think we’re assuming that if it’s on the web it’s going to be there forever,” he told Brett Zongker of the Associated Press. “That’s one of the biggest challenges.” He added that old media, like audio cassettes, “are just time bombs. They’re just not going to be playable.”
Other news organizations ran highlights of the findings from the study. These included The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Library Journal, Asian News International, Hindustan Times and outlets in Maryland, Missouri, Oregon, Colorado and Massachusetts, and websites such as arstechnica.com.
While the Library is exploring ways to protect and preserve the nation’s sound and film heritage, its mission is also to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity. So it is not surprising that after more than 40 years, a “treasure trove” of tapes of classic British television from 1957 to 1969 was found in the Library and will be repatriated to the British Film Institute. (See Information Bulletin, October 2010.)
“To have these returned is extremely important,” Jamie Medhurst of Aberystwyth University in Wales told The Western Mail. “We can get a feel of how society was looking at itself at that time when television was becoming a huge mass medium.”
Several other outlets in the United Kingdom ran stories, including The Guardian, BBC, Daily Post (Liverpool), Birmingham Mail and walesonline.com, in addition to other outlets such as The Austrialian and Hindustan Times.
A variety of websites and blogs also made the announcement—gather.com, digitalspy.com, unrealityshout.com and contactmusic.com.
Another way the Library is preserving the nation’s heritage is through the work of photographer Carol M. Highsmith, who recently launched her 21st Century America Project, a 50-state photographic tour. Her images will be housed in the Library of Congress and accessible to researchers online, all copyright-free. (See Information Bulletin, October 2010.) The Washington Post’s Neely Tucker spoke with Highsmith about the scope of the project, which began in Alabama and Washington, D.C.
“As photo assignments go, it’s a doozy,” Tucker began. “Spend 16 years capturing the disappearing highways, byways, buildings, barns, lighthouses, baseball games and bake-offs that define American life as we know it, then salt it away for posterity in the world’s largest library.”
Of Monroeville, Ala., where Truman Capote and Harper Lee grew up as neighbors, Highsmith said little had changed. “It was so fantastic I didn’t know what to do with myself.” Of the nation’s capital, she noted that so much has been saved. “I love the row houses. I love LeDroit Park. The historic fire stations.”
Tucker also spoke with the Jeremy Adamson, the Library’s director of Collections and Services, about Highsmith’s project. “She’s opened the door in a way no one else will. Her images will be accessible. Free. … She looks at things with such precision, and nails it in such a way, that we’ll always be able to know that people in the future will know what things looked like for us.”
Erin Allen is a writer-editor in the
Library’s Office of Communications.