Best Practices For Audio Preservation
does a preservation transfer, and then an automated process is run to build the archival
elements for the deposit. There is then an opportunity for an engineer to signal process the
material for the Production Master. Then an automated process handles the routine work of
building the Production Master that will be deposited. After which, an automated process is
run to build the delivery ﬁles for the deposit, and ﬁnally, after a person checks the results of
the work, the deposit is generated.
The development was carried out in an iterative stepwise process. We started with the
development of our “makedeliverable” workﬂow script. Once we had a skeletal working
script we went through multiple iterations of testing and enhancement of the script. Once
we were satisﬁed with that script we went through the same process for developing our
“makeproduction” and then “makearchival” and “makedeposit” scripts. Once all four scripts
were working, an additional round of testing was necessary to ensure that the four were
working together as a reliable system.
The investment in time to build the automated processes was well worth the expenditure.
These tools have revolutionized our preservation workﬂow and have liberated our audio
engineers from the drudgery of repetitive tasks. The result is that we are now able to easily
generate deposit packages that conform to our expectations with reduced opportunity for
error. This process allows the audio engineer to focus their attention on the task of getting the
best playback, and in the evaluation of the object undergoing preservation, instead of on the
task of generating endless XML documents by hand.
Curatorial staff determine the selection of objects for preservation and submit a preservation
request to Audio Preservation Services. The request identiﬁes the object by title, persistent
identiﬁer (normally the call number or shelf number), format, curatorial responsibility,
condition and handling restrictions, whether or not it is to be deposited in the DRS, the DRS
owner code, the billing code, desired formats, level of preservation (either full preservation
metadata or digital copy only), access permission level (Public, Restricted, or Staff Only),
and workﬂow status. Currently, each request is a single paper document. However, we have
begun development of a database with which to replace this document and track objects
through the entire preservation workﬂow.
If the preservation request is one of many in a collection and there are no priorities speciﬁed
for those requests, then we perform a triage and prioritize preservation on the basis of physical
condition (greatest degree of deterioration ﬁrst), then tape base (acetate ﬁrst, then polyester)
or disc formulation (lacquer, then vinyl). Object condition permitting, we prefer to organize
transfers by format to reduce setup time.
126.96.36.199.2 Open Reel Tape Transfer
This example is from the preservation of a quarter-inch open reel tape from the James Rubin
Collection of South Indian Classical Music.
If our object is a quarter-inch, open reel tape, we determine track conﬁguration with the aid
of a magnetic viewer. The proper head stack is installed in the Studer A807 open reel tape
player, and the transport and heads are cleaned and then demagnetized if needed. The tape
is played brieﬂy to conﬁrm tape speed by listening to the built-in tape monitor speaker. The
outputs of the Studer are patched to the inputs of the Prism AD-2 analog-to-digital converter
for A/D conversion. The output of the AD-2 is then routed to both the G5, so that we may
use SpectraFoo for analysis, and to the DAW for recording. Once SpectraFoo is running, we