5. Staff

From the points raised so far, it will appear that three areas of expertise could be appropriate backgrounds to the staff of a sound archive's cataloguing section librarianship or archivism (reflecting the priorities given to standardisation), relevant subject knowledge to the archive's areas of specialisation, and information science or computing skills.

In effect, the expertise associated with information science is not that most appropriate to the routine work of cataloguing in most sound archives, although access to such expertise (on a consultancy basis) can be of great value, especially to an archive establishing its cataloguing system. Similar arguments, it may be noted, apply to computer expertise, even for archives contemplating a computerised system. The priorities and budget of an archive are unlikely to encompass the establishment of a team of systems analysts and programmers -such a team would be severely under-employed. A single expert may be more necessary (especially, say, in an archive using a complex or on-line system) but reliance on an individual leaves an institution vulnerable to that individual's departure. It is better policy to seek to establish, with outside help as appropriate, procedures sufficiently routine for the archive's normal staff to manage.

In choosing between staff trained in librarianship or archivism and subject experts, an archive will be affected by the types of material it collects. Professional training has undoubted values, and significantly lessens the archive's own tasks in training new staff in relevant skills. On the other hand, the cataloguing of some types of sound material is likely to require abilities other than those of conventional cataloguers. Much book cataloguing consists of the interpretative transcription of information available from the book's title page; the cataloguing of many sound recordings, however, requires that the cataloguer listen to the material and provide an intelligent analysis of what is heard. Appropriate knowledge of the subject concerned is therefore of greater value than general cataloguing skill, and it may justifiably be felt that it is a shorter task to instil the principles of good cataloguing in a subject expert than to give a useful grounding in the subject to a trained cataloguer. The choice of qualifications will thus depend on the material collected and the type of cataloguing system used. An archive of commercial recordings, or of field recordings well-documented by their collectors, especially if using a library-derived cataloguing system, may justifiably select trained librarians; an archive of unique material will be better advised to look to subject experts. Individuals combining both backgrounds, of course, should be made particularly welcome.

Similar considerations dictate the answer to the question of the appropriate size for an archive's cataloguing section. The rate of growth of the archive, the cataloguing system employed, the types of use of the collection, and (in the case of an archive of field recordings) the contribution made by non-cataloguing staff are all critical factors. Those archives who supplied the examples used in the case-studies below were also asked to supply notes on staff levels: of the archives collecting primarily for research purposes non-commercial recordings, documentation staff never surpassed three, often with duties other than cataloguing, and in no case was this considered entirely sufficient; in all cases, it should also be noted, some of the burden of documentation was shared by field workers. Archives of commercial recordings can normally accommodate much larger accession rates with similar sizes of staff, but even so may feel that larger cataloguing sections would be useful. Broadcasting archives, in a world of day-by-day commercial pressure, may have documentation staffs that seem by contrast enormous: the Dutch broadcasting service NOS has in excess of 15 in its various departments. Cataloguing, it seems, remains an undervalued task except in collections that depend commercially on their ability to retrieve material from their collections. Those setting up new archives might be encouraged for their own sakes to make a more balanced assessment of priorities.