Following on from his first post a few weeks ago, our Stanford University Libraries 1st-generation intern Abraham Tewolde updates us on the work he has been doing recently at the Archive of Recorded Sound. Be sure to watch out for further updates between now and the end of Abraham's internship in mid-August.
"Wow, I can’t believe that it’s already July! I’ve been busy here in the Archive of Recorded Sound (ARS) working on a number of different projects. The digitization equipment is now up and running again at the Archive so I have had the opportunity to witness the process of transferring audio from an LP to a digital file. It is a bit of a time consuming process because the entire LP must be listened to during the transfer in order to make sure that there are no problems with the sound quality. Even before that the LP must be thoroughly cleaned in order to ensure that it is transferred at the best quality. I haven’t had the opportunity to see a 78 RPM disc be digitized, but I’m sure that I will later in the summer. A big project that I have been working on is digitizing some unpublished recordings of the English horn player Dennis Brain, that are part of the William Lynch Dennis Brain Collection which is currently being processed at the Archive.
Another task that I’ve been working on is researching the many antique phonographs that are housed in the ARS and the Music Library. There have been many physical media formats dedicated to storing audio during the history of recorded sound: cylinders, shellac discs, vinyl discs, magnetic tape, wire, cassettes, and compact discs, as well as many digital formats. They have gotten smaller and higher quality over time. A major problem is that many of the older formats degrade over time and in many cases if that audio is lost there is often no copy anywhere else and it is gone forever. That is why digitization is so important. There are plenty of other things going on in the ARS and I’ll keep everyone updated as I do more.
Visiting other libraries is always a fun experience and I‘ve gotten to see a few during the last couple of weeks. Most of them are very different in the sense that they actually store books instead of audio, but there is still a lot that makes each and every library unique. I really wish I could visit them all, but that will take some time and I’ll let you know when I succeed in that quest."