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  • SN-0010 Audiovisual Preservation Issues and the Sound Directions Project

This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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Audiovisual Preservation issues and the Sound Directions Project

Please fill in the following metadata about this narrative (and delete this line when finished!):

Collection Date: January 9, 2009
Scholar #1 Info: (if more than one scholar's process is described, copy this set for each scholar)

  • Name: Alan Burdette
  • Email: aburdett@indiana.edu
  • Title: Director IU Archives of Traditional Music, Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology
  • Institution/Organization: Indiana University
  • Field of Study/Creative Endeavor:

Collector Info (can be the same as "Scholar" above):

  • Name: Same as above
  • Email:
  • Title:
  • Institution/Organization:

Notes on Methodology:

Please briefly describe the collection methods used (eg. "self report", "questionnaire", "ethnographic interview")


The scope section is provided by the collector, with input from the scholar(s), and attempts to estimate the scope of the group that performs the processes described: How broadly do the practices described in this narrative apply to others in same field, in related fields, etc?

  1. In the opinion of the scholar, who participates in the process the story describes?
    (e.g. "just this scholar", "many people in the scholar's field of inquiry", "all academics", etc.)
  2. What is this process intended to accomplish for the scholar?
  3. Who is the intended audience of the processes described?
  4. Is this the only process the scholar uses to accomplish his/her goals?
  5. What "shared services" would help transform the story into something of more benefit for the scholar or his/her audience?  What process or processes in the story could be automated?

Sound archives have reached a critical point in their history marked by the simultaneous rapid deterioration of unique original materials, the development of powerful new digital technologies, and the consequent decline of analog formats and media. Motivated by these concerns, in 2005 the Indiana University Archives of Traditional Music and the Archive of World Music at Harvard University began Phase 1 of Sound Directions: Digital Preservation and Access for Global Audio Heritage - a joint technical archiving project with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. One major goal of the project was to test emerging standards and develop best practices for audio preservation.

The project created a number of software tools that may be placed into service including the Harvard Sound Directions Toolkit - a suite of forty open-source, scriptable, command line interface tools that streamline workflow, reduce labor costs, and reduce the potential for human error in the creation of preservation metadata and in the encompassing preservation package. To aid selection for preservation, Indiana University developed the Field Audio Collection Evaluation Tool (FACET), which is a point-based, open-source software tool for ranking field collections for the level of deterioration they exhibit and the amount of risk they carry. These tools are all open source. Indiana also developed the Audio Technical Metadata Collector (ATMC) software for collecting and storing technical and digital provenance metadata. Harvard also produced Audio Object Manager for audio object metadata creation and Audio Processing XML Editor (APXE) for collection of digital provenance metadata. These tools will be released as open source later after further development.

On a broad scale, audiovisual preservation is a key, but often overlooked infrastructure need. Many new digital audio and video projects in the arts and humanities have the term "archive" as part of their description, but few are relying on sustainable digital preservation practices. Without attention to the preservation of audiovisual assets, many significant and irreplaceable documents in innumerable fields will be completely lost in the next few decades. The Sound Directions project presents a model for other archives to use, but there is a critical lack of facilities and funding for the necessary transfer of analog collections across the country. Even at the Archives of Traditional Music—one of the partners in Sound Directions— at the current rate of transfer there is not enough existing personnel or funding to effectively preserve their holdings. One of the options they are exploring at Indiana University is a campus-wide or even regional facility that would support preservation transfers. They are in the midst of surveying the audio and video holdings on the entire campus to assess the scope of the needs that exist. Needs are not limited to analog source recordings, either. Most scholars and even many special collections are not equipped to handle the long-term stewardship of born-digital recordings. Another broad need is for equivalent standards and best practices in the field of video preservation to match those that now exist for audio preservation.

Sections below have not been completed


Please provide some keywords that will allow us to group or cluster related stories--or aspects of stories.

1. Was this story collected for a particular Bamboo working group?  If so, please include, as keywords, the appropriate group(s).

  • Education
  • Institutional Support
  • Scholarly Networking
  • Shared Services
  • Scholarly Narratives
  • Tools and Content Partners

2. Suggested keywords: Does this narrative contain elements that could be mapped to these keywords?  If so, please indicate which ones and briefly describe the mapping.  Add any additional keywords in #3. (These are global keywords from this page keywords)

3. Please list additional keywords here:


Please include the text, documents, media, or other material which comprise this narrative

Other Comments:



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1 Comment

  1. Unknown User (rjaffe)

    Bigger than all individual work space categories – and therefore, perhaps, not applicable to Work Spaces – this touches upon ws-content, ws-metadata, ws-analysis, and ws-workflow.  It also might argue for a new category: ws-preservation. (See also Narr 11.)