9. Staff

There are few training programmes for sound archivists and hardly any for archivists specializing in commercial recordings. Such an archivist needs a combination of several skills: some knowledge of sound reproducing equipment; familiarity with the practical operation of archives and libraries, such as cataloguing, indexing, shelving; a basic knowledge of the history and structure of the record industry; some musical training, if possible.

One person need not necessarily have all these skills. The technical aspects of sound reproduction can be handled with outside help. But the successful running of the archive requires a combination of library or archival training and a basic knowledge of the record industry. Both are equally important. Many of the tasks in sound archives are no different from those in a library, but the mechanical application of library or archive training without an understanding of the peculiarities of recordings can produce disastrous results. The cataloguing rules for sound recordings developed by libraries may be good for a public library which must handle both books and recordings, but they are inadequate for sound archives with historical recordings. The best background for a sound archivist specializing in commercial recordings would probably be basic library or archive training combined with an extensive reading of literature. He should make visits to older sound archives; correspond and have personal contacts with other archivists, collectors and record industry people; and have a genuine interest in recordings.

How many staff are needed? This depends on the size and collection of the archive, the input of new recordings, the complexity of the cataloguing system, the services offered to the public and other factors. It is relatively easy to estimate the working time required for the cataloguing of a certain number of recordings annually and the operation of a listening service (and reading room for printed material on sound recordings). It is more difficult to estimate how much time is needed for contacts with record producers (there are always problems with getting recordings), correspondence with other archives and scholars, the search for historical recordings and administrative work. Archives will have to estimate for themselves how many staff the ideal operation of their archive would require, and then comfort themselves with the knowledge that most archives have to do with less! It is also important to remember that the first task of archives is to preserve material for posterity. Even if it is not possible immediately to arrange the proper cataloguing of recordings, a listening service and so on, it is important to acquire recordings so that they are not lost.