Today David is attending the launch of the new British Library online sound archive. The archive is freely available to the UK further and higher education community via the ATHENS authentication system.
A full press release follows below:-
Breaking the sound barrier…
Massive digitisation programme by JISC and the British Library makes 3,900 hours of historic sound recordings available to students, researchers and academics
26th September, 2006.
A major new online resource available free to everyone in further and higher education will provide easy access to thousands of hours of rare and historic sound recordings. Archival Sound Recordings (ASR), launched today by the British Library in partnership with JISC, will make available to students, researchers, teachers and academics some 12,000 unique materials from the dawn of recording history to the present day.
Archival Sound Recordings breaks new ground in the delivery of digitised sound recordings for use in education and research. It features a huge range of material, including classical and popular music, radio drama, oral history, and field and location recordings of traditional music.
Highlights of the fully searchable archive include:
* Unique and previously unpublished recordings of East African and South African music and cultural activities;
* The story of six decades of jazz in the UK, its varied styles, venues and characters, as told by musicians, promoters and label owners;
* A comprehensive archive of performances of Beethoven string quartets – unique in the way it reflects changing performance styles over the past 100 years;
* Insights into the lives and concerns of painters, photographers and sculptors through interviews with artists such as Elisabeth Frink, David Bailey, Fay Godwin, Eduardo Paolozzi and Anthony Caro;
* Radio material illustrating the richness and diversity of African writing and political culture during the 1960s and 70s.
The £1m project has been made possible through JISC funding and is part of an overall £10m programme supporting the digitisation and online presentation of high-quality content including sound, moving pictures, newspapers, census data, journals and parliamentary papers for long-term use by the further and higher education communities in the UK. The ASR service is accessible to any web user, but access to the audio content will be limited to password-authenticated members of the UK FE and HE communities. The full service will also be available to users in the British Library’s reading rooms in London and Yorkshire.
The website’s interface was developed through extensive user testing to devise the best format for retrieving and playing back the recordings.Enhanced playback features will also allow users to create and edit their own playlists, and combine interdisciplinary material for their own projects, research and teaching resources. The digitisation work for ASR was carried out by Memnon Audio Archiving Services, which transferred recordings from a variety of analogue carriers to digital format, applying digital restoration techniques where appropriate.
“This was a particularly challenging and complex project,” said Michel Merten, Director of Memnon. “We worked with some very delicate collections, ranging from African field recordings on fragile magnetic tapes to Beethoven String quartets on early 78rpm discs. To handle a project of this scale, we developed innovative new techniques with the British Library, enabling us to preserve these important cultural records for future generations.” Memnon also provided technology to deliver the metadata necessary to allow full search and retrieval.
Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library welcomed the launch of the Archival Sound Recordings resource: ”Sound recordings represent a massively untapped resource in the field of education. The learning possibilities across almost all subject areas are immense. The Web offers a means of widespread access to rare, historic and hugely valuable sound resources and this site demonstrates the British Library’s commitment to research and further education.”
Professor Sir Ron Cooke, Chairman of JISC, said: “The scale and scope of this archive is ambitious, groundbreaking and truly exciting. Not only will it be an important resource to a wide range of disciplines and subject areas but also, we believe, a landmark for the use of sound recordings in education and research. JISC is delighted to have worked closely with the British Library in developing and making available such an innovative resource.”
For more details see: www.bl.uk/sounds
For further information on the JISC Digitisation programme, please go to: www.jisc.ac.uk/digitisation_home.html
For further information, please contact Philip Pothen on 07887 564 006/020 7848 2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Ben Sanderson at the British Library Press Office: 01937 546126 email; email@example.com