Why Selection?

To reiterate: an archivist is usually the opposite of an individual who makes selections. By nature the archivist is striving for an ever-growing collection; including whatever he can get; excluding as little as possible. Why should he then apply selection to the collection of recordings ready to enter his vaults? There could be three possible reasons:

  1. Lack of space
    New technical developments will eventually allow smaller formats for records, yet space will always be an argument in favour of selection. Audio-records also demand certain standards of air-conditioning which may involve a considerable investment of money.
  2. Lack of staff and equipment for preservation
    Preservation may consist only of keeping air-conditioning under control and a regular check on the stability of the records in storage. But old and deteriorating records have to be copied, involving time-consuming operations, sophisticated equipment and a quantity of blank carriers.
  3. Lack of staff for cataloguing
    The accessibility of the recordings in our archives is of course very much dependent on the quality of the catalogues we are going to produce. Even a simple catalogue of audio recordings should be based upon standardized title descriptions. For example, the ISBD, while spoken word recordings demand an additional summary of the contents. The descriptions should be classified according to some system using keywords derived from an authority file such as the one produced by the Library of Congress. Cataloguing is, therefore, a time-consuming affair.

Selection should be seen as a means to diminish investments, exploitation costs and above all the considerable costs of staff necessary for preservation and cataloguing.