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Resources in Wax: Audio Preservation & Cultural Curation at the Library of Congress

Title (author1): 
First names (author1): 
Surname (author 1): 
American Folklife Center
Other authors: 
Ms Nicole Saylor, Dr Maggie Kruesi, Mr Bryan Hoffa, Mr Brad McCoy
Presentation type: 
panel session
26 Sept Monday
Start time: 
LoC Madison Building: Montpelier Rm.

This presentation focuses on the Ancestral Voices/Local Contexts initiative based at the US Library of Congress. The project brings library curators, catalogers and audio engineers together with members of the Passamaquoddy Native American community and university-based researchers, to collaborate on a project of sonic restoration, cultural attribution and “digital repatriation” involving the Library’s historic wax cylinder recordings. The aim of the project is to utilize cutting-edge audio capture and digital restoration tools, open-source IP and content management platforms, library cataloging standards, and indigenous cultural protocols to make 19th century recordings available for the community of origin and the public in the online environment.

The presentation by Library staff will offer a behind-the-scenes look at choices and workflows in several areas including audio capture from obsolete carriers, preservation methodologies, sound restoration techniques, metadata development, collections management, cross-institutional collaboration and digital access. Audiences will be treated to examples of the audio restoration work performed on the cylinders at the Library’s Packard Campus. Presenters will also demonstrate how Native communities utilize the open-source Mukurtu Content Management System, developed at Washington State University, and the Traditional Knowledge (TK) attribution labels, developed at New York University, to enhance the metadata for the Library’s online presentation of the recordings with indigenous attributions and cultural knowledge. The project promises critical insights into means and methods by which cultural heritage repositories can respectfully and responsibly collaborate and share resources with the communities they serve.