Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Digitizing records and tapes: will some projects do this instead of using a professional service?

Lifehacker gives -- or links to -- advice on a wide variety of topics for everyday people. This one caught my eye because it used the word "digitize." Indeed here is advice for consumer to digitize old records and tapes. This advice is meant for consumers who want to create personal copies of their records and place them on an MP3. It's not meant for institutions who are trying to digitize old records and tapes, yet I wonder how many institutions will try this instead of having the work done professionally?

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Richard L. Hess said...

Hi, Jill,

As someone who digitizes audio professionally, I actually support archivists doing their own work if they are careful and take the time to learn. There is so much material out there that should be digitized and so little money to do it, if there is no budget, it is better that it be done reasonably well than not at all.

I have been involved in consulting with one very successful "crowd sourcing" project where a university had volunteers come in and do the digitization at workstations set up by staff based on my suggestions. There were over 5000 elements that were turned into two CDs each. The tapes had been poorly stored and were starting to lose their oxide.

It has to be done carefully, but it can be done. I don't necessarily agree with Audacity as a tool, but it's not bad...there are better ones, I think.

Craig said...

(I'm a little embarrassed being so self-promotional here, but I still think this is important. --Craig)

We (Reclaim Media) have been making great progress at applying factory-style process automation to audio digitization, to the point that we're a better deal than volunteers for many organizations, especially assuming that a volunteer's time is worth at least minimum wage.

Here's an article about how our internal process cuts way down on the financial incentive of digitizing tapes or records on a volunteer basis.

...and the rest of our article library.

I honestly believe that we're having a disruptive impact on the audio digitization and preservation field. I ask for whatever pointers or criticism you can provide for how we can do it better.

--Craig Meyer, craig@reclaimmedia.com