2.2.2. Technical Processing and Preservation

The IASA Technical Committee document, TC03 The Safeguarding of the Audio Heritage: Ethics, Principles and Preservation Strategy Version 3, of December 2005, specifically proposes ethical considerations for technical processing and preservation of audio recordings. In this publication the valid distinction between content and carrier is drawn, and consideration is given to technical responsibilities, and consequences of actions in technical preservation practices. TC03 is available at http://www.iasa-web.org/safeguarding-audio-heritage-ethics-principles-pr....

Any kind of preservation, restoration, transfer and migration and of sound and audiovisual content should be done in such a way as to avoid or minimize the loss of data and other relevant information on the original recording. In addition, ancillary information, which may be part of the original sound or AV document (i.e., content and carrier) in manifold forms, should be safeguarded. The original carriers should be preserved in useable condition for as long as is feasible. This also applies to all digitized materials, since the technology and methods of signal extraction and analogue-digital-transfer are still subject to further development, and original carriers – and packaging – often provide ancillary information.

TC03 states that eventually the content of any sound recording intended to be retained indefinitely will need to be transferred to a long term storage system, however, as local conditions may affect the process, any such procedure “should follow a strategy based on the individual situation of the collection and the specific policy of an archive” (TC03, p.11). Prioritisation and selection for digitisation should follow the selection criteria developed by the IASA “Task Force to establish selection criteria of analogue and digital audio contents for transfer to data formats for preservation purposes1.

Any kind of physical restoration process on the original carrier should be performed with utmost care to balance the possible improvement of restoration against possible further deterioration or subsequent damage in the long time preservation (see TC03, chapter 6). Any kind of physical restoration process on the original carrier should be performed according to the actual best practice (see IASA-TC04 "Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects”, 2nd edition, 2009, individual chapters: http://www.iasa-web.org/audio-preservation-tc04).

Transfers made from old to new archive formats should be carried out without subjective signal alterations. Any kind of subjective signal enhancement (like de-noising, etc.) must only be applied on a copy of the unmodified archival transfer (e.g. on access copies, see TC03, chapters 7-8).

All preservation actions, restoration, transfer and migration processes (including long-term digital storage procedures), should always be accompanied by careful documentation, in order to provide all relevant specifications that ensure the authenticity of the primary data and prevent the loss of primary, secondary, and contextual information constituted by the original AV document. Technicians working in an archival preservation setting must ensure that they document any alterations of sounds and audiovisual data done for other specific purposes such as types of dissemination.

Technicians whose work involves the creation of information systems for cataloguing sound and audiovisual collections should also avoid data loss in those systems.

1. see: http://www.iasa-web.org/task-force