Sunday, March 27, 2005

Heading to the Music Capital (Austin) for ARSC Conference

Not much to report. I've been retrieving articles this weekend for my Film and Video Preservation readings course this summer. Tomorrow I get trained on OCLC Connexion, probably the client version, rather than the browser we used in Cataloging class. Woo-hoo! I did notice that the library consortial catalog in WV uses Innovative Interfaces, or triple-I as some folks call it. That's good news--I've heard nothing but good things about that ILS. Ugh--so much to do before I head to the ARSC conference (Association of Recorded Sound Collections) in Austin on Tuesday. All the preservation stuff will be cool, but some of the discography talks should be really interesting. Here's a list:

Blues Images: Advertising Paramount Records in the 1920s
JOHN TEFTELLER, World’s Rarest Records, Grants Pass Oregon

Vernon Dalhart: From Opera to Country Recordings
JACK PALMER, Battle Creek, Michigan

Far from the Field: Sacred Harp 78s, 1922-1940
WARREN STEEL, University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi

Independent Texas Record Labels and Their Role in Recording Vernacular Mexican American Music in the Mid 20th Century
CHRIS STRACHWITZ and TOM DIAMANT, Arhoolie Foundation, El Cerrito, California

The Invisibility of Music in the Age of Recording
MARK KATZ, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

The Gramophone Company in Central Asia: Social History through Discography
WILL PRENTICE, British Library Sound Archive, London, UK

Eugene Ormandy’s Career

Stravinsky, Robert Craft, and Ross Russell’s Dial Records
JERRY YOUNG, Austin, Texas

Toscanini: The Man Behind the Legend
MARK MCKNIGHT, University of Texas, Austin

Rosetta Reitz—Rediscovering Women in Jazz & Blues
AVA LAWRENCE, Northeastern University, Boston
Jimmy Giuffre:

Unsung Avant-garde Jazz Composer and Improviser
PETER JOHNSTON, York University, Toronto, Canada

Naropa University Archive Project: Preserving, Reformatting, and Cataloging 20th Century American Literary Culture
TIM HAWKINS, DEENA WADE, and JOE CONWAY, Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Boulder, Colorado

Music on the Radio: Forgotten Roots of the Revival
MATTHEW BARTON, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Ben Botkin and Folklore of the Badman
MARY ELLEN DUCEY and PETERSON E. BRINK, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Outlaw Country: Godfather to the Muzik Mafia
NANCY A. JACOBSON, University of Michigan, Detroit

“ Pass the Biscuits, Pappy”—W. Lee O’Daniel or How to Win an Election with No Substance But a Lot of Entertainment Value
CARY GINELL, Origin Jazz Library, Thousand Oaks, California

A Brief Introduction to the Sheldon Harris Blues Collection
GREG JOHNSON, University of Mississippi, University, Mississippi

“ There’s a Rainbow Shining Somewhere”: Homer Rodeheaver and the Birth of the Gospel Recording Industry
DAVID N. LEWIS, All Music Guide, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Plus the final banquet on Saturday night will feature the Kitchen Sisters...ROCK ON!

Friday, March 25, 2005


Well, I'm feeling a bit under the weather today. I won't be going to the ALA-Student Chapter to do a talk about internship blogging. So I'd thought I'd do some blogging about blogging (metablogging I guess you'd call it). Here's a picture of me for starters, doing what I've done best over the last ten years...dealing with CDs and working at radio stations.

(A picture of me at IU's public radio station WFIU where I catalog their sound recordings)

I've been using blogs since last fall. I really think they're useful for specific purposes, like if you are intensely focused on one topic, or a specific project. I read some general blogs--friends, political, music, arts-related, but they're just not what I'm interested in doing. My first blog was called "The Kitchen Party." The Kitchen Party is also the name of my folk and traditional music program on WIUS AM-1570 that I host every other week. Although I sometimes write about the music I hear, artists playing in town, etc., it's really just a place that I can put up my playlists and have them available to my listening public.

(IU's student radio station where I host "The Kitchen Party" my bi-weekly folk/traditional music program)

This got me thinking about the purpose of webspaces. Why do we have them? We can have them to put up our résumés, our photo galleries, or things that we care about. They're also a place for storytelling. The narrative we create about ourselves online is crucial to our virtual identity. By talking about ourselves online, we define ourselves and our attributes. I've been struck by the casuality of what some people post--our expectations about who we are in public and in private has really changed for people of younger generations. Posting our problems, our frustations, hopes, dreams, desires, secrets, etc. I intended not to do this when I first started blogging. And who's reading all this text anwyay? My audience for my radio show is interested in knowing what I played when. So, when I created my internship journal/blog I had less of an idea of my targeted audience.

(The WETA-FM library, the collection I oversaw as music librarian from 2000-2003)

I am specializing in Music Librarianship, with my focuses in cataloging and audio preservation. Much as some people become librarians because they love books, I did so because I love recorded music and the spoken word. I worked for WETA-FM, a public radio station in Washington, DC for three years before coming to Indiana. There I oversaw their collection of over 20,000 CDs, mostly classical as was their format then. For the specialization, I am required to two internships: one of which was required to be in cataloging (Sound Recordings Cataloging with Sue Stanchu), and the other in another music-related subject area. I chose an archival setting for the second, and am interning at the Archives of Traditional Music working for Mike Casey, the recording services coordinator (i.e. engineer). One of the requirements for an internship as many of you know is to do a journal. Well, I'm not very good with this, so I thought that I would need a way to encourage me to do it often.

(The Archives of Traditional Music is located on the ground and first floors of Morrison Hall).

A blog is a great way to get your thoughts, writing, reflections online quickly. I don't need to learn much code; in fact, if I just let the template do its thing--I don't need to learn any. There are features you can add, depending on what you want. A lot of add-on code for links, pictures, polls, etc. are available free on-line. You just have to search for it. One of the strengths of blogging is also one of its weaknesses. That is, the speed at which your thoughts can get to a large public quickly. (Later editing can solve this, but once it's been seen by other people, they form impressions). As a mostly private person working with a very public medium, there are some limitations I put on myself when I blog. I rarely blog about the personal, or post opinions about things I don't already know a bit about. Sometimes, I will post my impressions and ask the same way you would in a journal. I will express some frustrations about professional matters, but not about the institutions I'm working for. That's not kosher or professional, and can clearly come back to bite you in the ass.

(A picture of one of the studios I work in at the Archives)

I hope someone knows something about what I am talking about is reading abd paying attention to the questions/observations I am making. But I don't know if they are. I did make the decision to have my blog captured and displayed on SLIS Blogs. I've learned a lot about blogs and the "blogosphere" from reading other colleagues' and friends blogs who are also library students. Being part of a community of bloggers I've discovered is a good thing. It informs the way that I write and the topics I choose. I haven't blogged as much as I did during the first part of the semester. Some of that is keeping the private private; but mostly it is just because I don't have the time to do all of the things I'm doing and write about them simultaneously. Real life definitely gets in the way.

(My space for my cataloging internship at the IU Music Library).

In short, you can make a blog as simple or as complex as your desire or technical abilities will allow. There are tons of resources online to get a start. I use Blogger, which is not great. But it works for beginners and for those who don't have a lot of time on their hands for upkeep, or care that much about layout. You can host your own blog on Ella, or create a Live Journal.

In conclusion, the content of your blog should obviously reflect who you are, your intended audience(s), and the reason you're blogging. If it doesn't, don't be too hard on yourself, it's easy to stray and talk about things that are off-the-point. If you don't want your blog to be spidered, there is a tag you can include which inhibits some search engines from indexing it. In a way, a blog or a website is a form of marketing. It generates interest, and expresses your way of viewing the world, whether about the world of cataloging or politcal events.

Some concluding words of wisdom:
1) Express intelligent opinions, or qualify your questions or impressions by saying that there are things you don't know. It's ok to say that you don't know everything. That's why we're in school.
2) I advise only stating any arguments or opinions expressed in ways that are difficult to misconstrue or take out of context.
3) Don't assume you're the first people to have dealt with difficult issues.
4) Only type what you want people to find out about you.

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at tpease, or make a comment to this post in true BLOG fashion.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Sticky Shed Syndrome...are you safe?

Well, I'm back...

After an extra day of car repairs (done in Ephrata, PA no less), I arrived back in Bloomington last night.

Lots of things to think about for the future. But for right now, I'm concentrating on binder hydrolysis (or the "sticky shed syndrome") as it occurs in tapes from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s for my trends and issues paper for Preservation class. As soon as I have a decent bibliography, I'll put it up. Lots of good stuff though, from your basic novice pages to scientific reports and patents!

I'm hoping to do a SLIS readings course this summer on film & video preservation. Since I've gotten a taste for magnetic recording, I really want to see what goes on when you combine moving images with sound. All the challenges, etc. I don't know how far it'll lead. But I want to be able to talk at least coherently when people ask me about how to preserve videorecordings. (As one person did at the board meeting this week). My answer: I'm going to look at that this summer. Everyone's just one step ahead of my knowledge curve. Back to another exciting week of audio preservation and cataloging!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

West Virginia- Almost Heaven

I've spent Tuesday in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. It's spring break, but I'm not there for hiking or outdoorsy activities. I was there to look at their library and radio stations. Pocahontas is a big county with not a lot of people per capita. They are however big in spirit, to the point where the Pocahontas County Free Library system won the #1 Best Rural Library in 2003. The radio station, WVMR-FM (and its other affiliates, on the FM dial) have been broadcasting and serving the local community for over 20 years. And when I say serving, I mean SERVING. Doing farm reports, weather reports, local music and interview programs, broadcasting on-location--not simply running canned programs from a big distributor. During some of the floods of the last 20 years in the county, the radio station has actually saved lives through broadcasting of important information. Some of that material has been saved--thank goodness: talk about a great story to tell!

I was in the area talking to one of the directors about helping with a preservation project. Although they're active in the WV Public Library system, they're looking to do some new projects. Because of my recent interest in preservation and digitization, they thought I would be a natural to come and talk to them.

As a small county with scant resources, they like to collaborate among organizations. The radio station has boxes and drawers full of cassettes and old reel-to-reels. The library wants to talk about video digitization, and the historical society might want to preserve its large photograph collection. There
are several questions about these interests they've expressed that I hope I've been able to communicate:

1) The appropriateness of preservation, reformatting, and digitization for the project. Are they on decaying media? Is this for preservation of the artifacts or preservation of the intellectual content?

2) The level of sustainability of the outcome. If we get these items online, who is responsible for making sure filenames and paths are correct, and are correctly migrated when moving to new systems?

3) Training "mere mortals" to learn to digitize materials. Even if I come there for a year or two and help them get their materials salvaged, preserved, and into working order to be digitized, this knowledge and practice needs to be carried on. Part of what I'd be doing is doing workshops for interested parties in these areas.

4) Documenting the decisions that are made in the whole process. Part of the practices of preservation is making everything transparent for future generations. This will incldue decisions made in reformatting, including signal chain and equipment used.

I've been able to come away with more of a sense of the picture of what's going on here. I think they're talking about access to digital files: audio, video, etc; but preservation and interoperability of the intellectual content of these materials--so they can reformat, repackage them at will. Access will mean more than getting them up on-line; it will mean that both the radio stations and the library patrons can use and manipulate them. (We're working on copyright, I'm just not going to talk about it right here).

The area is so beautiful. The mountains are so high. I had great weather. I stayed at a very nice B&B while I was there. Also got to move a refrigerator. That night, I went to the PCFL Library Board meeting where I was introduced. If I decide to come there, I think I'll have everyone's support. That would be worthwhile. One thing I'll struggle with though, I'm sure, is support from the outside. Internet access is there--even satellite and T1--but access to materials I currently have at Indiana will be lacking. At least I might be able to ask questions of people in ARSC and get some feedback.

It's still Spring Break, but I'm already thinking of the coming ARSC conference at the end of the month. Wow, everyday I just seemed to be more and more convinced about my ignorance of some of these issues. I mean I know what I know (and I think that's a lot), but is it enough? Preservation, metadata, project management, digitization, and maybe even program production at some point. It's baffling to me that libraries aren't talking to radio stations and audio engineers more about these issues. There seems to be a collective ignorance and lack of communication--mostly probably because of the difference in vocabulary between the broadcasting and library/archive communities. But if we want interoperative systems, we're going to have to slug it out together.

Friday, March 11, 2005

More Finns from Ontario

In the spirit of honoring Finnish immigrants in Canada, I found "An Index to the
Finnish-Canadians of the 1901 Census of Ontario, Districts of Thunder Bay, Rainy River and Kenora"
. From the website of a Bill Martin, who specializes in Ontario Genealogy. Enjoy!

An internship by any other name...

And now my progress report for my Archives internship.

I never know how to refer to it as. To some groups, I call it a Recording Services internship because it's under the Recording Services section of the Archives of Traditional Music. More generally, I might call it a "audio preservation/technology/recording/digitization" internship--or something similar.

Most of the activities I do involve surveying recordings, transferring analog recordings to the digital realm, creating documentation of content and material conditions for the Archives. It's not an archival internship in the traditional manner, so I tend to think of it more in the preservation realm.

And there is the fact that I'm not doing "preservation" of the actual recordings. That's done by Mike, who's the Coordinator of Recording Services. You need to be an audio engineer for many years to be qualified for this sort of work. What I'm doing is reformatting for access. If there is any problems, then I contact Mike. But ya' gotta' start somewhere.

Today I attended the Noontime Lecture series lecture on world music marketing and promotion. A local proprietor of a world music marketing firm called "Rock, Paper, Scissors" talked about what he is does, how he got to do what he does, and the industry of commercial "world music." (A vague term which he didn't get into, suffice it to say, it is an artifical genre). The talk was interesting, and it was nice to meet a PR person who cares so much about the back story of the music instead of how many CDs or tracks he can sell for his client. (Well he does, it's just his approach).

Over the last few weeks, I have been absorbed in a transfer of 5 inch original tapes of Finnish language material from immigrants in Canada collected by Matt T. Salo (67-147-F ATL). Most of it is spoken, so I'm having a lot of problems following the content index that was in this collection. Soon we'll have ATLs for the Listening Library. Here's the IUCAT record for the Salo collection:

Title: [Canada, Ontario and United States, Ohio, Finns, 1967] [sound recording] / collected by Matt T. Salo.
Physical description: 23 sound tape reels : analog, 7 1/2 ips, 2 track ; 5 in. + tape documentation
Performer: Various informants who emigrated to Canada from Finland ca. 1900-1930.
Recording info.: Recorded during the summer of 1967 by Salo in Port Arthur, Silver Mountain, and Lappe, Ontario and Ashtabula, Ohio.
Notes: Finnish folklore and folk-songs.
In Finnish and English [not indicated in documentation].
Accompanied by a complete tape catalog in English ([50] leaves).
Deposited at the Archives of Traditional Music by Salo in 1967 under option 3.
Local note: OT 5" 654--676
Summary: A large collection containing personal histories, customs, folk medicine, legends, memorates, magical practices and superstitions, rhymes, tales, lullabies, holiday customs, ballads, folk-songs, proverbs, broadsides, wedding customs, stories about other ethnic groups, information on material culture, children's songs, riddles, games, and poems.

I can usually tell if there's a song, or there are more than two people on one side. To playback one track of a 5", 600 ft. reel recorded at 3.75 inches per second takes about 32 minutes. So I can't get through many on my 3-4 hour shifts. Tuesdays are usually my most productive day. I think I transferred about 3 or 4 tracks that day. Of course, you can't just put a tape onto the reel and start it.

At least, we don't in the Archives. I check the condition of the tape to make sure there are no physical problems like windowing, curling, ridges, or flange pack. We had several with ridges last week that Mike put on a special OTR machine to find at a special "library wind" speed. Mostly, it's been pretty routine. I have to check to see if there is content at the beginning or ending of the tape which is to be wound onto the takeup reel. If it's too close, I have to splice some leader tape onto the end of it. Mike's said some of my splices have been very good. :-)

Then I have to listen to a good portion of it to set sound levels for the OTR machine and the output to the computer. Mr. Salo is often much louder than the people he's interviewing--which is frustrating. The weirdest things make sound levels peak. You'd think it would be the high note in the music, or a loud section; but more often than not on these, it's the voices speaking. They say a word or a phrase just a certain way and the meters go a'flyin.

It's been important for me to get a lot of hands-on experience with open reel tape, esp. since it was presumed to be the archival medium of choice before we entered the digital era. There are boxes and boxes of this stuff sitting in libraries. Unique materials, and often poorly documented that need to be preserved. Experience with materials and equipment that have been thought obsolete will make me more valuable for future projects that involve digitization. We're not YET in the era where everything is "born digital."

After the break, Mike will have some preservation-related readings for me to do on audio archives. I'm impressed that he's really thought this through. Meanwhile, I have to finish my trends and issues paper for preservation class. It'll be on Sticky Shed Syndrome (SSS) in magnetic tape. The technical term is "binder hydrolosis." As Jake has mentioned in class, hydrolosis is a pretty common thing to happen to things that are stored well. The current solution: bake the tape in a convection oven. Mmmm...tape.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Cataloging Internship- how that's going

It's been a long time. I have no excuse, except that life sometimes gets in the way of writing about life.

I thought I'd use this entry to write about my progress in my cataloging internship at the IU Music Library. I haven't written a lot about this internship. I thought I knew a lot about cataloging before I started--even music cataloging. The more time I spend doing it, especially classical music cataloging, makes me think this ain't so. (Humility--always a good lesson to learn).

So what have I been doing for the last month and a half? Well, after spending a good amount time absorbing MARC 21, the LC Rule Interpretations, the Music Cataloging Decisions, re-reading AACR2, and reading Smiraglia and Weitz's authoritative books on music cataloging and MARC coding, I've actually been doing cataloging every hour I've been at the Music Library. (No big shock).

I've created name authority records for composers and performers. I've created name-title authority records for classical pieces that need a uniform title. I've edited records from the Library of Congress and other institutions. I've created original records of classical music, conjunto music, and Norwegian jazz (Solveig Slettahjell).

Every time we use an access point, I check IU's authority record against OCLC to make sure we have the most current version. I've inputted both bibliographic and authority records into IUCAT's SIRSI Workflows system, adding copies and volumes.

I've created shelflist cards for the Music Library's Technical Services Division cuttering the recording based on a former IU Music Librarian's (de Lerma) classification scheme. [FORMAT-COMPOSER/PERFORMER CUTTER-GENRE-WORK-THE # OF THE LATEST COPY IU HAS]. It's kind of clunky, but it works for a closed system.

I have around 86 more hours to get done in this internship by finals week.