Collection of material in an archive setting will sooner rather than lead to a necessary policy of selection.

Selection is one of the most essential elements in most archives, and selection in the archives of notebook materials is a necessity because of the volume of the material involved and the very nature of the material. Sound archives have been in existence for the best part of ninety years and the longer they exist the more necessary the process of selection becomes. Although it is an essential element and has been practiced for many decades, whether consciously or not, selection does not feature prominently in the literature of sound archives. It was with this omission in mind that IASA embarked on a series of sessions during the annual conferences dealing with various aspects of selection in different types of libraries.

This publication is a collection of papers given during these sessions. It is designed neither as a definitive statement of selection in sound archives nor as an exhaustive study but it is hoped that the articles will from the basis of a continuing awareness and development of selection principles for sound archivists to consider in their daily work statements of adequate selection policies criteria and general practice are overdue and the aim of this publication is to stimulate thought and further publication in an important topic.

The editor of the present publication acted as chairman of all three sessions at the IASA conferences and the task was eased by the assistance of those authors of the included papers who updated their own material for inclusion. A note has been appended to each section to indicate the conference at which the paper was given and the present post of the author involved. Some additional papers have been included to provide extra information or enhance the booklet with practical examples. I am particularly grateful to Peter Hart and Margaret Brooks of the Imperial war Museum in London for permission to use the criteria of selection, which were in fact drawn up partly as a result of the IASA sessions and concern in the issues involved.

The booklet begins with an extended introduction and continues with papers dealing with the theory of selection given by Poul von Linstow and Rolf Schursma. Rolf Schursma’s paper additionally enumerates some practical criteria for sound archives in general, as well as the research sound archives he specifically deals with.

Oral history is closely related to sound archivism and often provides the raw material of the archive collection. A paper dealing with criteria for selection for recording in the field is included to illustrate the particular problems involved.

Selection is a widespread problem in all sound archives, but in none more so than national archives where the volume of material deposited or available for retention enforces a selection policy on the archivist. Three papers indicate some of the problems, one from the National Archives in Washington and two from the Public Archives of Canada. One of these papers deals with the Public Archives intake of radio broadcast material. This leads directly to the radio or broadcasting archives where the volume of material constantly threatens to submerge even the most rigorous selector of archive material. Examples of broadcasting organizations are taken from England and the Federal Republic of Germany.

Two papers have been included from the session on the selection popular music, and although they deal primarily with the indexing systems in use in the two libraries concerned they also indicate the selection policies which are in force to make the collections in the very prolific area of popular music more manageable.

The book concludes with a case study taken from one collection, the Imperial War Museum in London, England, which has attempted to draw up criteria for selection. Although many archives have their own methods of selecting material, much has yet to be formalized and written down for the benefit of other archivists. The Imperial War Museum criteria represent a step in the direction of greater exchange of ideas and information in this important area, and it is in the hope that this is only the start of the debate that the present volume exists.