British Library Sound Archive staff exchange program: week #2

During my second week of the British Library Sound Archive staff exchange program I was primarily involved in the 'business end’ of the archive, that is access and preservation.

In the access section of the sound archive I met with Ike Egbetola who runs the manual listening and viewing service. In conjunction with their fabulous 'soundserver’, which is on site digital access to the available digitised collection, there are the hard working folk who give access to the analogue formats. Users are able to book a booth in the reading rooms of the library and staff will then patch in their booth and play their selected material. While essentially very low tech it allows access to a vast majority of the collection that is yet to be digitised.

Speaking of digitisation I chatted with Adam from the preservation labs who is currently devising a system to digitise large amounts of the collection (a target of 160,000 titles in 3 years) in some cases by mass injest of works on CD. The CD collection it seems will be the easiest to automotively process but there will always be the more difficult parts of the collection that require a little TLC, as I learnt first hand.

British library cleaning vinyl

Cleaning lacquer discs


I spent the day with Kevin Lemonnier sorting, assessing, cleaning, digitising and accessioning lacquer discs from a new acquisition. It was great to finally get 'hands on’ with the collection (under supervision of course) and witness the highly detailed and specialised work the preservation team does with the collection.

I also learnt about the various uses for the British Library Sound Archive’s collection material which are sometimes produced into publications by the preservation staff. I observed the talented Nigel tidy up various recordings in the collection for podcasts on their website and for CDs which will go on to be sold at the library.

On my final day at the library I made a short diversion back to the curatorial area to speak with Eva Del Rey from World and Traditional music about the work she does acquisitioning born-digital material and the programs the archive runs recording live material such as the recent Womad festival.

A photo of the equipment used in the British Library Sound Archive's Technical Services

British Library Sound Archive’s Technical Services.


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