Monday, January 31, 2005

Fun in DOS

One thing I've noticed about both of these internships is how you switch from the micro-level to the macro, and back in an instance.

One minute I'm pondering the big picture of what name-title uniform titles do for a system like OCLC. And the next I'm learning the short cut commands for finding authority records in Passport through a record's OCLC authority record number or the LC Control Number.

There's been a recent thread on MLA-L started by my good friend Eric, who's assistant music cataloger at Florida State University. It related to the use of an 800 for name-title series, with a qualifier for the record label. Something like this:

800 1 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, $d 1756-1791. $t Selections (Sonia Classic (Sound recording label))

I've never seen this before, but according to expert catalogers, this is a way to give further qualification to a recording. Go to the Archives of the MLA listserv and type "duplicate authority" in the subject line to pull up the thread. I just encountered one, days after this was mentioned. Luckily, there's an authority record!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Intern Blog: Getting Good Press

Well, not a bad week for blogging. I'm amazed how easy it is for me to write so much, even about topics I feel so passionately. It's sort of a gathering place to keep all my readings and useful links together in one spot also. I just need to work on this blog's template code some more, so it'll be more functional for searching and useful for getting to various external sites. It's really cool to see how some of my older interests, like arts management, are intersecting with copyright and preservation of library and archival materials. The kind of databases that are out there affect cataloging and access to information. I know some regional bands and artists that don't even bother with the hassle of finding out rights, so they retain a music attorney to deal with this nasty briar patch.

Here's an article that SLIS did on blogging my internship: Interning with Sound Recordings: A Blog. It also got a mention on IU alum and Haverford College music librarian John Anderies' blog, Infoshare: Weblog of the Information Sharing Subcommittee of the Reference and Public Services Committee of the Music Library Association.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Film and Copyright...Taking it into the Festivals

I've seemed to be stuck on this one note for the last couple of days (thanks Pete!!! :-). I was attending Bloomington's very own, 2nd Annual Pride Film Festival both today and yesterday, and there was a panel discussion with some of the filmmakers after this afternoon's showing.

I asked the two filmmakers/documentarians: If they because of rights issues have at any time self-censored their filming, because they knew they couldn't afford or get clearance for any piece of cultural "property" they experienced in-frame. Jonathan McNeal, Dayton, Ohio-based director of RUBI GIRLS said no, and that sort of thing would be dealt with in the editing process. Another of the panelists, Bloomington filmmaker Scott Schirmer (whose feature OFF THE BEATEN PATH was shown), said that in regards to the music they were using. It took them two years to try to get permission for a Leonard Cohen song in the movie. In the end, they chose to go with a songwriter they personally knew and who would sell them the song and its rights outright. I didn't want to bring out the whole issue, since I was asking this in public, but obviously these issues affect not only production and screening of a movie, but also its distribution on the festival circuit and for home video, and perhaps someday on our own cable channel.

I loved the soundtrack that was incorporated--a Seattle-based musician named Jayson Webbley. I like Cohen's songs, but a lot of times it's better to go with an up-and-comer, whose music can evoke the spirit of the film, without the personality stamp of the artist associated with the song(s). Here's a picture of Jayson:

Day two of two of using this new information to see just how the "rights clearance culture" affects creativity and cultural production, esp. those working in the not-for-profit documentary market.

Also, I made contact with IU Communications professor Mary Gray, who was moderating the post-film discussion. I told her about ISDC, and asked her if any of her colleagues were looking at any of the issues of Creative Commons in the film and documentary world specifically. She said yes, and also one of her other colleagues in folklore.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Chinese Film: Reflecting on Cultural Production

At the lecture on Chinese film this afternoon at the Archives of Traditional Music, I asked a question of the lecturer, Sue Tuohy (not talking about the folksinger, Mary Sue Twohy). It was naturally, about copyright. My question was: If Chinese filmmakers, since China is being brought into line with world intellectual property standards as mandated by the WTO, were now feeling the same pinch of "rights clearance culture" as filmmakers from other countries have been. I thought the question was apropos especially given the topic of her talk, namely the representation of artists and their lives in Chinese films. Of course, this wasn't a problem for China and the Soviet Union before, because the state owns cultural property in communist nations; but now, modern films using archival footage and other cultural properties such as artworks, music, photographs, etc. have to gain clearances before they are allowed to be internationally distributed. As China is one of the biggest exporters of goods in the world, I would think they would want to get in on this.

Yet, I wonder what this will do to Chinese cultural production. As Americans, we only hear about how Asians copy and pirate thousands of CDs and DVDs. We don't recognize the real art that they create from manipulating their own and others' cultures. Anime began as graphic art based on earlier American comic book art, but became an artform in its own right. To play in the big leagues, filmmakers have to assure the multinational corporations that own motion picture studios that all rights are cleared. That's a tough sell--they might not choose to play ball all the time. (Sorry for all the sports metaphors--I only like baseball, so you'll only get those).

And when I mentioned the PDF report and the effect it was having on documentarians here in the United States, she did a little groan and nod. I think she knew what I was talking about. It's amazing how much art and culture cannot be distributed to large percentages of the population, because of all of this. A folklore/ethnomusicology student came up to me afterwards and thanked me for asking the question. I think I hit a nerve here. I told her about the Indiana Students for the Digital Commons, and she was very interested. She's doing her PhD on documentaries, so I think she'd be a good person to get involved with ISDC.

Back to preserving A/V materials...It seems there are a couple of really good film/video archiving programs in the U.S.: UCLA's Moving Image Archive Studies Program and NYU's masters program in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation. Those are probably going to be the basis on which I do research for my Trends and Issues paper (PDF) for Preservation class. Lots of good syllabi and reading lists on their websites. Until we get all this copyright scheisse fixed, we need to at least preserve and maintain our audiovisual heritage that is film, television, radio, audio and video materials. One thing Jake suggested was to look at literature that talks about what material doesn't make it to a master recording, whether it's film or audio. But it's the weekend now, and I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can, and study for a Preservation Quiz (PDF) on Tuesday.

That's not necessarily the sound of silence

I spent this morning placing markers and regions, editing out tape machine noises, and adding silences in Sound Forge. It's important for our listening copies (ATLs, are what we call them) to edit out tape noises made by older preservation master copies (like EC10's=Earliest Copies, 10 inches). Earliest copies were made on magenetic reels years ago by archivists to preserve decaying and fragile original master copies of recordings, or if the collector has only donated a copy). If it's originally in the recording, we leave it, because that gives future researchers context as to what the collector was doing.

I also learned that digital silence is different from analog silence. Digital silence is always at the 0 level, and has a much lower noise floor than analog silence. Therefore, as we add silences between items on our ATLs and throughout items that are not continuous recordings, it is important to place the right type of silence so it won't jostle the researcher who's listening to the access copy.

Unfortunately, that one exercise took me all morning. I started to make announcements, but then realized that I did the wrong one. Oh well. I'll start again on Tuesday morning.

Good news from Mike--The ATM's project with Harvard is now public. It's called Sound Directions and is being funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I'm sure I'll be learning more about this project this semester, as soon as I get up to speed with training. (I'm on module 4 of 6).

According to the website, the Project hopes to have the following outcomes:

a) Develop best practices and test emerging standards for archival audio preservation and storage in the digital domain and report our findings back, in detail, to the field;

b) Establish, at each university, programs for digital audio preservation that will enable us to continue this work into the future, and which will produce interoperable results;

c) In the process, preserve critically endangered, highly valuable, unique field recordings of extraordinary national interest.

I'm having more thoughts about the report too, but I've been busy running back and forth from the ATM, to the bank, to WIUS, and then to WFIU. It's a busy Friday afternoon. The Archives have their monthly lecture and concert series, and January's featured a talk by Sue Tuohy about Chinese film and the representation of musicians and actors in movies. It's amazing to learn that China started to make movies only 10 years after Europe and the U.S. had the technology.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

More thoughts about Copyright and Film

I'm still at a loss of what to say about this article (PDF). [Well, I'm obviously not given the large amount of text there is.] The more I read, the more troubling this whole situation seems to me. Having been exposed to a little bit of this world through contract work with presenting organizations, and my time with orchestras--I understand that as an actor, playwright, director, scene designer, composer, your work is not only about what you do, but about managing the creative results you produce, your image, your reputation, and your ability to exploit these intellectual resources. We live in a free market system that rewards those that have the ingenuity, resources and talent to succeed.

But not totally...the United States derived something that Europe and other nations didn't have: a third sector...namely the non-profit sector. Sure, Europe had kings and royalty and patronage and all that; and private individuals paid artists to paint murals and create great works of music and drama. But something about the U.S. historically went for a middle way to all this. Not government aid for arts and culture, until the 1930's. And there is no royalty, and little direct aid to artists from government these days. But what we have is a country is an overabundance of associations and organizations dedicated to one cause or another. That's a good thing in my view. What we need is a more informed and engaged citizenry who contribute time, talent, and monetary resources to these groups.

So, most visual and performing performers and creators have their works exhibited, or presented by non-profit organizations. (For the most part, there is of course Broadway and corporate art galleries, and rock and country music, etc., but even there, there isn't a clear line of demarcation separating the non-profit arts industry from the "entertainment" industry). Non-profit performing arts centers present blues bands and popular country stars, and commercial theatres take chances (albeit rarely these days) on new plays and musicals. But as the Documentary Report noted, just because you're a non-profit doesn't mean you don't have to play by the rules of the industry. They have to buy the same insurance as other concert venues...indemnification, fire, etc., plus for broadcast...Errors and Omission insurance (never heard of that before).

You're lucky if you can get a Ford Foundation grant, or something from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, but if you can't, you still have to pay for stock footage, archival photos, and the intellectual property rights behind the cultural property, that we Americans think of increasingly as our heritage. [And which funding agency, really wants the bulk of their money going to lawyers to fight for clearance rights!]

So, as I learned on my first day in my first Arts Management class, what is a non-profit organization? Is it a organization that exists to go bankrupt? Can it make a profit? It suffers from a very poor label--better to go back to the older name, charities. (Although, sadly, that word doesn't always have a positive connotation). Non-profit organizations exist solely as legal entities because of a LOOP IN THE TAX CODE. That's why they're called 501-c-3 organizations, because that's the section that allows these entities to not pay income taxes, and to allow donors to deduct contributions to them. I was saying...even if an entity is performing this public good of exhibiting works for the public in an art museum, a movie theatre, or via television or the Internet, they still have to play according to the rules of the corporate entertainment industry. It seems that few people on the other side of the aisle, want to cut these groups any slack concerning their use of their material...which brings us back to Pete's question (which he asked in an e-mail to the ISDC group)..."All of that aside, my big beef here is the question of who, effectively, "owns history."

Pete also wrote earlier:

That said, I do think that this film is an excellent example of the way that copyright can take a history, or the rurable record of public events, effectively out of the public's hands. In this sense, I think that the film and the efforts around it do exactly what you mention in your second point, which is demonstrate the skrewy-ness of the current copyright regime.

No one, and everyone. But the real question is who owns the artifacts of history? They that do control the representation of history, of culture, of civilization even. Do they have a responsibility to society at large to make their materials available to researchers, historians, and other makers of creative content? Do they have a responsibility to even keep, and not sell, not destroy, not modify the original creative product, in the interest of a larger society? In the labor-intensive and cost-intensive area of film and television, it's easy (and justifiable) to argue that creators should be able to fully exploit their products as long as possible. But I'm reminded of the original section of the Constitution about copyright:

"To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries" (Article I, Section 8).

I know "limited times" seems quaint these days as we're approaching copyright perpetuity, but if cultural property never is transferred to the public domain, how can the majority of Americans play off it (legally) and create their own "remixes." And now, I'm coming to the preservation of cultural items, really...I promise.

Copyright Issues for Documentaries

An interesting discussion on the Indiana Students for the Digital Commons list this morning prompted this blog entry. We were talking about archival video footage used in documentaries (discussion below). Pete Welsch showed me an interesting study, called Untold Stories: Creative Consequences of the Rights Clearance Culture for Documentary Filmakers by Patricia Auferheide and Peter Jaszi (Center for Social Media, 2004), done on the difficulties that documentary filmmakers face in creating their works, especially since they face the issues of copyright and trademark law, for the inclusion of various materials in their works. Then there is the documentary itself, and its future. How this relates to my blog via preservation, is that the issue of rights very much affects the preservation of an item and its access whether in the analog or digital worlds.

It's a very interesting report, and reminds me of the many issues that faced my former employer, WETA every day. Also, a friend of mine, involved with film festivals face these issues regularly. The authors are from American University, where I attended graduate school for arts management, but didn't finish.

Pete started the discussion by asking for input into an event the ISDC was proposing to hold:

Here's something that I thought you might be interested in and that might be a good event for the ISDC to host for our "coming out" as an ACM committee.

The p2p/copyright group Downhill Battle (the Grey Tuesday folks) are making an effort to get the civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize screened around the country on February 8th. The film is hard to get a hold of now because the copyright holders for several of the pieces of footage used in the film have placed the premium on further distributions of the work at prices that the producers can't afford. Seems like an appropriate melding of tech, copyright, and civil rights issues to me. Here's the link.

[...] Think we might be able to arrange for a classroom at SLIS? Any apprehension about the deal?

I'm always apprehensive about anything that might deal with copyright, but maybe that's because I'm a wuss. I don't think that's all it. Another student wrote back:
I don't know that I entirely agree with Downhill Battle's assertion that "The First Amendment and the doctrine of "fair use" can clearly be extended to include the right to distribute a film of such important historical significance as Eyes, when such a film is otherwise unavailable."

However, if you couch the screening in terms of educating the public about the screwy-ness of copyright law, everything should be okey-dokey. (NOTE: In case you were wondering, "screwy-ness" and "okey-dokey" are proper legal terms.)

If you couldn't get a room at SLIS, the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center ( has a variety of rooms available for reservation.

Ah, here we are talking about very different things. The stock footage, the documentary, the (re)distribution rights, and the performance rights.

Redistribution and performance rights are separate things. Don't know or understand the case law of this issue. Performance rights are dealt with separately in the U.S. Code 17 (I'll look up citations later). The factors for fair use don't necessarily apply to the ability to broadcast or perform a work. It's ok for someone in a library to show a copy of a video on a screen intended for 1-2 people. Quite a different thing for an instructor to show it in class (covered though in a different area, TEACH Act I think), and another thing for a library to arrange a showing in a community room that's accessible to the public. That's where it gets sticky.

Anyhow, Pete wrote back:

I'm not sure that I agree with that argument, either, in terms know... THE LAW. That said, I do think that this film is an excellent example of the way that copyright can take a history, or the rurable record of public events, effectively out of the public's hands. In this sense, I think that the film and the efforts around it do exactly what you mention in your second point, which is demonstrate the skrewy-ness of the current copyright regime.

I'm not sure that I used your legalese correctly, hopefully you got the idea. :)

I agree with Pete in this instance. I just don't know what we can do, as non-lawyers or non copyright clearance experts to effectively combat this. But it definitely is an important mission.

On a different list, I found another discussion that's relevant to this conversation, namely "orphaned works," whose authorship or ownership cannot be readily determined or rights have not been assigned under the current system. (BTW: There was no system of federal protection of copyright in sound recordings until 1971. Before that, it was state-by-state, which is murky to say the least. Of course, now it's retroactive...mainly back to 1923, with some exceptions of course. And then there's international law, and moral rights, and the duration and nature of copyright and trademark is even MORE complicated. Ugh.

Here's the link to the article on orphan works and what the U.S. Copyright Office is trying to do to cover this gap.

Pete didn't find this particularly relevant, and posted some relevant articles from Wired, which I haven't had a chance to look at yet:

To be clear, I don't think that this falls into the catagory of an "orphaned" work in that ownership of the applicable rights is clear...the issue here is that the issue of renewing the licenses enjoyed X number of years ago by the filmmakers has effectively priced the documentary out of the marker... as a result, there are no plans to release the film, effectively limiting its availability to the lifetime of the current, aging generation of videotapes. Here's a Wired News article that breaks the history of the issue down nicely... apparently, short-term licensing of archival material is a common thing among documentary filmmakers, which means that their work eventually becomes "illegal," often because they can't afford to renew the license down the road.

Wired Article No. 1

And here's another article that came out this morning, wherein the lawyer for the production company that produced Eyes on the Prize says that redistributing the film is illegal. The producer died a few years ago and the company is now owned by his daughters.

Wired Article No. 2

Given these issues, is a showing something that we would be interested
in doing?

Pete also wrote:

I should ammend my comments to say that the production company behind eyes on the Prize is looking in to re-licensing the rights necessary... they got a grant from the Ford Foundation to research options and project that they'll need $500,000 to get the licenses back.

All of that aside, my big beef here is the question of who, effectively, "owns history."

I'd say it'd be an interesting case of investigating more about, and doing a side presentation of why this issue is so important, and what the Creative Commons can do to alleviate these problems in the future.

This entry is getting further afield than I wanted, so in my next entry, I'll show its relevance to the importance of preserving master recordings, be they audio or audiovisual, and the need for easier access to these source recordings by individuals and nonprofit organizations.

At break from my L651 class, I wrote back:

No, I understand that too, I was just bringing the article to everyone's attention. This thing often happens in the case of sound recordings, where a recording of an obscure composer was released one year, and goes out of print within months or a year or two. And since it didn't sell well, it doesn't get pressed until someone, a historic event, or a performance by a major symphony orchestra creates a minor groundswell of attention and enthusiasm for that composer or composition.

It's even harder in the area of motion pictures, which carry many more series of rights involved/assigned...the music, photography, and art works therein (art law being an entire thing altogether), the scenery, and anything created for that film;
anything captured by cameras, the music written for the film, songs used in the film
(which are covered for the composer, performer, plus the mechanical and synchronization rights), etc. Ugh...But I do think in a sense it's easier to get rights for documentaries than for feature films, because the inherent content is more "newsy" and less "artistically" created. These are events that really happened and the capture of them and subsequent publication should be less proprietary than a work of artistic or intellectual creation. In other words, it's more a matter of public record, esp. if those captured on film are figures of historical, political, or cultural significance. I think there's something built into US Code about this, but I'll let someone with real legal knowledge (re: the lawyer of our group) figure that out.

I followed up with:

Part of what this relates to also is the flow of capital within the nonprofit structure, which comes in ebbs and flows...federal aid and grants from individuals and grantmaking foundations.

At that point, I ran into Pete and he gave me that article which I've been skimming ever since. Soon as I get another half-hour or so, I'll write more; but for now, I have to go learn more about digital recording and transferring at the Archives. Sorry this is so badly formatted.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Preservation: Digital file formats and air conditioners

It was all about preservation today...

Started out with Preservation class this morning, where we learned about isoperm theory (isopermanence) and HVAC systems (Heating/Ventilation/Air-Conditioning). After the very detailed discussion in The Museum Environment (by Garry Thomson) about heating, lighting, and storage standards, it was nice to get a class with notes in bullet points.

This is my professor, Jake Nadal, Head of Preservation at the IUB Libraries.

Jake took us to a classroom with windows to show us how conditions in a room can vary in only a matter of feet. Standing right by the window, a book can be exposed to very cold temperatures (in the winter) and high humidity, and then five-ten feet in, conditions would differ (probably for the better). Lesson learned: It's better to let your collection's temperatures cycle, than its relative humidity. Again, air and moisture being the greatest cause of deteoriation for books.

Meanwhile...over at the Archives of Traditional Music,

I learned about digital recording. The Archives uses Sound Forge, a killer audio application that's great for 2-channel (i.e. stereo) files. I've been using it for a couple of years, since I took a class in Audio for Multimedia at Northern Virginia Community College. But I haven't used a lot of the advanced features for a while. Not that I will be doing any fancy editing or mixing, because it is an Archives. We use Sound Forge to do flat transfers from source recordings. No fooling around, cutting up, equalizing, adding a bass line, or creating mixes--just plain recording. That's fine. Mike Casey, my main man and audio preservationist god, does signal processing for those people, who need a little more modern sound to their recording of Balinese gamelan music.

And in the cause of traditional music, I think I'll announce another season of my bi-weekly folk/world music program, The Kitchen Party here. It's every other week on Sunday evenings from 7-9 pm. First show should be on Feb. 6. Take a listen on-line to WIUS. Here's an album I know I'll be playing a lot of:

Monday, January 24, 2005

Fun with SIRSI

Cataloging today...Finally got to look at some DLC (Library of Congress) copy and input something into our local system, specifically Alessandro Scarlatti's "Agar et Ismaele esiliati" or The Exile of Hagar and Ishmael, an oratorio by the Italian composer from 1683.

Interesting things about the way SIRSI (our local cataloging system) deals with certain MARC fields.

1) 028- Record label and label number. $a Label number $b Label name. Probably the most useful field for locating sound recordings. Most systems index this, some print it as a note, some give an added entry. It's supposed to depend on what you do with it locally. Well, SIRSI displays it as a note--great. But it doesn't reverse the order as it should to read (for example- Centaur: CRC 2664). Instead, it dumps it into the system as CRC 2664 Centaur. How easy it would be to have the systems people reverse subfields a and b, and add a colon. Doesn't take a Ph.D. in computer science, I wouldn't think.

2) 246- Added entry under title. Is this description? Added entry (i.e. access point)? Both, and neither. Why? You have to drop the initial articles that come before a title (stopwords like a, an, the)--so it's not pure description. And while it adds useful titles to your catalog (in my opinion), it doesn't give them as authorized. I guess that concept doesn't exist since it's a manifestation of the works in the item. So, uniform titles and name-title entries do this. The old way was to give other titles in the 500s. Which I've never liked. I like the 246. We used them a lot at the Archives of Traditional Music. But I can see catalogers' frustration with this field.

3) 007- Lots of great coding information. But for what? who? Who uses this information? What good is it for your users?

4) LC doesn't make 240s (uniform titles) if 245 $a is the same as what the uniform title would be. Makes sense doesn't it? Duplication? Not really. You need it, at least in SIRSI, to index the piece together with the composer. Think Britten, Benjamin--Peter Grimes.

That's all for that. Checking OCLC authority records against our local records right now. How can IU not have any Centaur Records recordings with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra? They're the hot recent thing on the Early Music scene.

Later this afternoon, I got to input a change to the Ingrid Matthews authority record. It only referred to her as a violinist. She is great--esp. her recording of the solo violin sonatas by Bach. But she also had founded and is the music director (i.e. conductor) of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra. So we added a 670 to reflect her contribution as a conductor. Yay! All the authority work is done.

We added the local call number, based on a classification system developed by the former IU music librarian, Dominique-René de Lerma. Format-Composer Cutter Number-Form/Genre-Title (first letter)...etc.

On Wednesday, I work on doing some edits to the bibliographic record, and start to work on a Malipiero disc.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Light, Heat, Air: Good for Humans, Bad for Books

Reflecting on today's and Tuesday's preservation class:

Chemical reactions are catalysts, or in business terminology, "change agents" which engage a change and activate energy to upset the inertia of an item's environmental condition. Something like that...basically, if you change an element of your collection, say the relative humidity or the temperature or introduce foreign elements...then you change the environment, and allow reactions to happen in living items (a book, or a polyester tape) that will change their chemical composition. Heh--not bad for doing so badly in chemistry class in high school

Also, another lesson: the elements that allow us as humans to thrive: light, air, water are the most corrosive to collections, be they paper, plastic, or magnetic. A good lesson to learn: Maintain a balance in your approach to your collection. Just because all the best tools are available, are they appropriate to the collection, to access?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Newest Cataloging Technology

So, I'm learning how to use a cataloging application (OCLC Passport) that's going to be obsolete in May. Grrrreeat!

"Note: OCLC will discontinue Passport for Cataloging and Interlibrary Loan as of May 1, 2005. Users of Passport for Cataloging and Interlibrary Loan must migrate by this date. OCLC will discontinue Passport for Union Listing in June 2005.

OCLC Connexion replaces Passport for Cataloging. Information to help Passport users migrate to Connexion is available on the Connexion migration page."
We've used Connexion in both of my cataloging classes. I've used Passport a little bit when I was over at the Archives of Traditional Music, for searching a few things. But mostly we used CatME for adding records. We still validated and used Passport for authority work.

Today: Making up hours for Monday, when it was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday and the library was closed. Read through the LC Subject Headings Manual on items relevant to music: H250, H1160, H1916.3, H1916.5, H1917 (Popular Music), H1917.5 (Folk and Traditional Musics), and H2075.

I think I'm getting the uniform title thing. Plural forms, with the appopriate qualifying elements, depending on what it is. Powerful system for collocation. I've always tried to do a modified version of what for whatever radio database I've worked in.

More to tell about the awesome hands-on experience yesterday...learning how to clean an open reel tape machine, learned about the signal chain, and got to create a recording with lots of distortion!!!

Here's an example of a reel-to-reel machine:

Actually, this is the only one I found so far. There's not quite as many bells and whistles--but it's still really good. Generates test tones and everything. ;-)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Active Listening/Using your Ears

In transferring from recording to another, "the worker should be actively listening from beginning to the end." [i.e. take bathroom breaks before you start, don't talk to other workers while they're in the middle of something unless it's important].

I'm supposed to be listening for:
1) Correct playback speed, tracking configuration (for discs), and direction of sound.
2) Changes in speed. Does speed and pitch gradually rise? Does speed change drastically and abruptly in the middle of a tape?
3) Significant changes in level/volume. Are these level changes because of a performer? Or adjustments made by the collector because they realized their volume levels were too low?
4) Changes in high frequency content as time plays. Does tape become progressive more muffled?
5) Distortion, hum, and other problems with sonic content.
6) Preservation problems: squeeling from the ape, significant dropping out of content.
7) The content itself--Music or speaking, etc. Gather information for sheets or for "dropping" (placing) markers.

When good tape goes bad...or potential preservation problems that would cause me to stop the transfer:

1) Squealing sounds from an open reel or cassette tape.
2) Jerking, sticking and releasing, stopping and starting, or coming to a stop by itself. [I think the tape's trying to tell us something.]
3) Extensive shedding of oxide and/or backing.
4) Tracking problems on a disc. The needle skips, jumps, or fails to stay in the grooves.
5) Problems with the sound on a tape or disc. Unusual noises, unusually low levels.
6) Anything that strikes you as unusual or that you do not understand [caveat: he probably means something related to this process, and not my imperfect understanding of the world such that it is].

More fun later, transduction, input monitors, output buses, patch bays, and psychoacoustics.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Windowing, Curling, and Sticky Shed

These are all bad things to happen to your tape.

Just a note, gentle readers, that the contents of this blog may not always be interesting to a wider public. It's meant as my online journal of my internship experiences with audio recordings and the cataloging of them. Caveat emptor.

With that, let me go through what I did with my four hours today.

Went through the ATM's Project Workflows and Procedures manual.

I have to make sure that all the documentation's in the folder of the collection I'm going to work with. Read only the wording given for announcements/labels, as written by the archivist. This is for the beginning of a track or CD, to introduce listeners to what they are about to hear. Very solid audio archival practice.

I'll be transferring from source recordings for access. Not preservation, that's Mike's job. The idea is to reproduce the sound as it's heard on the original. If it's requested, we do signal processing to get rid of the pops and clicks and tape hiss, etc. Makes it sound all shiny and new. :-)

You have to watch out for physical problems with magnetic tape: curled tape and windowing, plus scratches, that affect playback. Here's a site that talks about common causes of magnetic tape failure. Here's the book.

What is windowing you ask?

Good question!

Windows are defined as: "voids or see-through air gaps in the tape winding. They happen when magnetic tape is loosely wound onto a tape reel, and especially when the loosely wound reel is later exposed to extreme heat or humidity."

Lesson: Keep your reel taut!

Ugh! and if you still use tapes a lot, clean the heads. Then your hands.

I'm curious to see what azimuth is doing on tape machines? This is quickly veering into the realm of geochemistry.

I'll be back with some more fun tips on magnetic recording.

Here's the definitions of the day:

Source recording = The recording that's going to be digitized to another format.

Tripping = What happens when the light doesn't come on your open reel tape player (something to do with Otari and Tascam machines, VU meters, etc.)

First Physics Class in 14 years

That's what I feel like after doing many of the readings for my Archives internship.

It's really cool, as I've said, how the world of libraries and archives mesh with every other discipline. Even though I'm 29, I finally feel like scientific things are interesting (and relevant) to learn. Whether it's how an audio current travels from performer to microphone to console to hard drive; or the chemical reactions in old magnetic tape when the iron oxides separates from the paper. Yup, tape used to be made of paper or plastic. I'll write more about today later, but those are my thoughts about the readings on audio I've had today.

Here are some recommendations the Library of Congress has for storing, handling and playback of cylinders, discs, and tapes.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Cataloging so far...

Reading...AACR2 chapters 1, 5, 6, 21, and 25...uniform titles! (woo-hoo). Music cataloging is all about uniform titles and long content notes. :-) (In many cases). Then, I dove into Richard Smiraglia's Describing Music Materials (3rd ed.). An IU grad, Smiraglia really explains how all the rules, rule interpretations, and music cataloging decisions work together to allow catalogers to catalog music. It ain't easy!

Also, not on my reading list, but highly recommended is Jay Weitz's column in the Music OCLC Newsletter. The group is called MOUG--someone had fun coming up with that. He is very detailed and logical in answering highly complex questions that come up about music and audiovisual materials. If you hang out on the OLAC (Online Audiovisual Catalogers) list, you can even ask him yourself.

Back to Smiraglia, then the OCLC Manuals. Diving deep today.

btw, they're working on AACR3 now. It's in draft form. Long live the FRBR!

Audio Internship-Good to Go

Had a really interesting day of training yesterday. Mike has a full documentation manual (not online) of technical procedures and training that he uses with his graduate students in ethnomusicology/folklore that work here. I worked through Module I today. Learned a bit about formats, the procedures of the archives, the eccentricities of audiovisual archives, and the fragile and impermanent nature of the various sound media which I will be working with. Think, shattering glass-acetate discs or tangled wire recordings (from the 1940s). Plus, I got to go on a "treasure hunt" to acquaint myself with material in "The Vault." Found some really cool material, esp. this blues disc by guitarist John Lee Hooker.

Watched a video called "Save Our Sounds," a documentary that was once on the History Channel. You can listen to an interview with Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia on how recorded music influenced his development as a musician. (Real Player required)

One of the Smithsonian archivists (Jeff Place) was working through some old Woody Guthrie discs. He found a recording that others said didn't exist, namely "This Land is Your Land" with the extra verses against private property and standing in breadlines. Hmmm...subversive archivists, I love it! There are verses for Canada too!

And think about this--the only tapes we have of Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly) singing was made only a year or two after magnetic tapes went on the market in 1947! His last sessions were made on magnetic tape between September 27 and November 5, 1948. He died the next year.

Got my summary done for the ATM internship:

This internship's goals are in two major areas: 1) technical training in sound recording archives technology; and 2) preservation of audio formats in an archives setting. Through this experience, I will become technically competent in storing, handling, and assessing preservation needs for tapes and disc formats; to provide for basic analog playback of various formats; and to be able to digitize audio. It will also give me understanding of preservation issues for sound carriers. I will learn how audio archives handle these issues and formulate workflows and insure proper documentation.


1) I will be assigned collections to transfer from analog to digital formats. This is a large task, with many other detailed steps. It involves the transfer, as well as creating indexes and other documentation.

2) Completing a survey of the preservation needs of the ATM's open-reel tapes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Preservation Class Today

8:00 is normally way too early for me. But it was worth it to hear Jake talk about preservation. Man, he knows so much, and gives a really interesting lecture.

Today, we talked about themes of the course: artifactual vs. intellectual value of books; conservation (the strict definition being the "care and repair of physical artifacts"; preservation science (see how everything fits together in library school--from music to business to legal issues to biology and chemistry); and how preservationists serve the information chain by repairing/fixing/keeping alive the points on the cycle (whether it's a manuscript, a music score, a film, or a digital file).

He made a great point through one of his stories. Books carry their history and everything that has happened to them. He did this by talking about cookbooks. Say you check out a cookbook from a library, it's raining, so it gets wet--you go in the house, and where do you use it? The kitchen. So, it gets tomato sauce on it. And is it any wonder that some books in our libraries are in the conditions they are!!!

Also talked about the issues surrounding the reformatting of intellectual content, and digitization. Can't wait to read the Nicholas Baker article (and book, Double Fold. Microformatting newspapers, and destroying them seems easy and efficient and so "up-to-date." But you can tell so much by the physical object. Man, this class is going to be awesome, despite having to catch the 7 am bus!

Day One for Archives Internship

Today I start my internship at the Archives of Traditional Music, which is the largest "university-based, ethnographic sound recordings archives in the United States." That's a mouthful.

Here's an old picture of one of the recording labs where I'll be working.

I'm all syked too, because I just got out of my Preservation class, where we'll deal with some similar topics, but also paper, books, and the ethics behind preservation, reformatting, and digitizing. Just because you can...

Monday, January 10, 2005

Submitted plan- Day One for Cataloging

Just sent my internship goals/tasks to Dr. Shaw per the requirements. Score. Good day. Reviewing AACR2 and the LCRI today. Went over internship requirements earlier. At least this basement I'm in has windows! Here's a picture of my workspace:

This internship will prepare me to do original cataloging of sound recordings in various formats (for contribution to OCLC), and to create name and title authority records for music (for contribution to the LC Name-Authority File).

It will familarize me with the important tools used by catalogers, such as the MARC21 Bibliographic & Authority Formats, the Z1 Descriptive Cataloging Manual, Library of Congress Rule Interpretations, Music Cataloging Devision, Library of Congress Subject Headings, and Dominique-Rene de Lerma's classification system for sound recordings (which is at use in the IU Music Library) as well as computer applications, such as SIRSI Workflows and OCLC Passport.

Original cataloging and processing of commercial compact discs.
Copy cataloging/processing of commercial compact discs.
Cataloging of some LPs.
Cataloging of IU School of Music recital tapes.

Internship Requirements

My requirements for each internship are as follows, per the SLIS Internship Page:

Start of Internship Semester:

Intern signs on to L596 e-mail distribution list -- DONE!

Intern begins keeping journal of internship experience -- Set up this blog today.

Intern submits updated goals and objectives, work schedule, date for oral report (during first 10 hours of work) -- Will do this week.

Intern begins reading and abstracting professional literature related to internship (one document for each 20 hours worked) -- 180 hours for this internship, so that comes out to around 9 articles. Not bad with 16 or so weeks in the semester.

I start my internship with Sue Stancu, the Sound Recordings Cataloging Librarian today. Although I've done some cataloging at the Archives of Traditional Music, I'm looking forward to learning how to catalog classical music recordings.

Tomorrow I start with Mike Casey, the Recording Services Coordinator (i.e. engineer) for the Archives, and a great flutist/dulcimer player to boot!

Blog for my Internship

Greetings! My name is Thom, and this is my space for my journal entries and random thoughts about interning in the exciting world of sound recordings. I'm interning this semester 14 hours a week at the IU Music Library doing cataloging; and 14 hours a week at the Archives of Traditional Music working with recording technology and doing preservation and reformatting, etc.