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Librarians discuss how to store world's data

Mike Keller is at a conference this week in San Francisco on digital archiving.

At a briefing between conference sessions, Stanford University librarian Michael Keller outlined the two-pronged challenge - preserving and digitizing the wisdom of the past, and deciding what to keep of the new facts, photos and videos being created at accelerating rates. Keller said preserving and cataloging the past, though no small feat, is the easier of the two tasks, and conferees in San Francisco heard some of the successes in that category, notably the new National Audio-Visual Conservation Center of the U.S. Library of Congress. The center, which houses more than 5 million recordings, films, videos and entertainment industry records, was donated to the government last year by the Packard Humanities Institute. Gregory Lukow, the library's audiovisual chief, said the foundation spent 10 years and more than $150 million to create a facility that includes dozens of climate-controlled vaults to preserve precious films and equipment to digitize recordings, videos and other cultural artifacts. When foundation officials gave the government the new facility last year, it was the largest private gift ever received by the Library of Congress, which named the new center after Silicon Valley icon David Packard, the primary benefactor.

"A tremendous amount of material is born digitally every year," said Keller, the Stanford librarian, adding that even a big institution like his can only collect 2 or 3 percent of the new knowledge created annually. And while the sheer volume of digital information being produced is daunting, the bigger headache is that e-knowledge keeps changing its wrapper, jumping into new programs, operating systems and hardware that provide new and more engaging ways to communicate.

How will librarians keep pace? Well, that's what the conferees will spend all week discussing. But Keller pointed out some main thrusts. Today, the tried-and-true method is migration - converting old digital data formats into newer ones on a case-by-case basis, which is costly and aggravating, especially given how formats change so frequently, he said. Down the road, technologists might discover how to present older digital creations in emulation - like running Windows software on a Macintosh computer. Alternately, libraries might store both the hardware and software for playback - like an old phonograph that plays wax records - a tactic called encapsulation. Whatever the approach, it should have started yesterday and now must run faster to keep up with tomorrow because, as Keller said, "everybody's a creator, everybody's a publisher."

Image and Sound databases

Helpful links to Image and Sound Databases from UC Berkeley. Stanford has subscriptions to most of these databases.

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Art of the Audio Essay (Willihnganz PWR 2) Winter 2008

Resource Guide
PWR 2: The Art of the Audio Essay

The Basics
Librarian: Chris Bourg,
To find books, recordings and films, use Socrates
To find journal, newspaper, and/or magazine articles, use a Database (see suggested Databases below)

Note: To open any link in a new window or tab, simply right click on the link and select Open in New Window or Open in New Tab

Search strategies for Audio

The Archive of Recorded Sound is home to a rich and varied collection of audio.
How do I find? Audio Recordings

To find Audio using Socrates:
• Select the Combined Search tab.
• Scroll down to Format and select Recordings

To identify Stanford Special Collections that contain Audio:
• Go to the Online Archive of California
• Select “Advanced Search”
• Search for “audio” and “any”
• Limit Institution to Stanford

Some sample collections with plenty of Audio include:

R. Buckminster Fuller Collection (digital Audio, site registration required)
This collection contains digitally reformatted audio-visual materials relating to R. Buckminster Fuller's multifaceted career as an architect, mathematician, inventor and social critic.

Newton (Dr. Huey P.) Foundation Inc. Collection
(some digital Audio available)
The Huey P. Newton Foundation was started by David Hilliard and Fredrika Newton to develop and sponsor cultural, historical and educational programs and institutions consistant with the theories and teaching of Huey Newton and the philosophy and ideology of the Black Panther Party. Collection includes audio of speeches, interviews, and press conferences.

Ginsberg (Allen) Papers (some digital Audio available)
Collection contains correspondence, manuscripts by Ginsberg and other Beat Generation authors, business records, notebooks and journals, clipping files, books, periodicals, audiotapes, videotapes, photographs, posters, and a CD-rom.

Moraga (Cherrie) Papers (some digital Audio available)
The Cherríe Moraga Papers document the life work of an important lesbian Chicana poet, essayist, and playwright of the 20th century. Contains audio and video of poetry readings, talks, lectures, and interviews.

To page items in Special Collections, follow the Paging Instructions.
To request copies of items in Special Collections, see Duplication Services.
NOTE: To get your copies quicker than the usual 4 week turnaround, be sure to indicate in your request that you have a deadline for a class project.

More Suggested resources for Audio Recordings

American Rhetoric
Douglass: Archives of American Public Address
The Free Speech Movement and Its Legacy
Gifts of Speech: Women's Speeches From Around the World
Great Speeches - History Channel
History and Politics Out Loud
Speeches and Speechmakers

Stanford Music Databases (20)

Some suggested sources for online music
African American song
Monterey Jazz Festival Archive Collection
Smithsonian global sound for libraries

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