Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Article: Library to store records, movies in Cold War vault

Once the 2.7 million sound recordings and 1.1 million moving image items are moved to this facility, they will be digitized.

The conversion process can be lengthy. For example, the batch of recordings that ships next month contains oldies from the Â’50s, Â’60s and early Â’70s in single record format that technicians must individually play back and reformat. So when a researcher requests an album, the employee must first play the recording on a turntable connected to a computer and then send the file to the Library.

For compact discs, high-speed duplication is impossible. Cassette tapes copied at high speeds have lower sound quality, making high-speed duplication unacceptable for preservation. And the digitize-on-demand process means researchers may need to wait a day for their requests.

One collector disagrees with the library's digitization plans. Paul Mawhinney, who has accumulated more than 3 million recordings, said:

I think that the actual collection in vinyl is actually far superior to digital format. Nobody knows how long [digital] is going to last.

As with many projects, this will be interesting to keep an eye on! Hopefully we all will be able to learn from their experiences.

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