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The Sound of an Article: Preserving Audio and Video Supplemental Materials from Print Journals

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spoken paper
26 Sept Monday
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LoC Madison Building: Montpelier Rm.

This paper will raise the issue of the conversion and preservation of audio and video content originally issued as supplemental material with journal issues and articles, and it will offer, as a case study, our experience at JSTOR of action (and in-action) on this issue. The topic of supplemental materials in the born-digital world has been addressed to a certain extent, but what to do with audio and visual supplemental materials issued on physical media with print journals has not been addressed and dealt with as far as I know. As academic journals move increasingly to born-digital publication and as back issues of print journals are increasingly converted to digital versions, there is a danger of non-print supplemental materials from the print era of journals being lost. It has actually been a problem for a long time. In the world of print periodicals in libraries, extra pieces of media that came along with issues of print journals did not fit the library mold of shelving and binding journals. Libraries often didn’t know what to do with this stuff and found places apart from the journal issues and articles to hold the media. There is an opportunity in the digital world to bring articles and related audio-visual content together in a way that wasn’t possible before, but there are also challenges in doing so that create the risk of these materials falling through the cracks and becoming lost and separated for good from their journal issues and articles.

JSTOR has been an important player in the movement toward digitization and digital preservation of academic journals. Despite its leading role in this work, JSTOR faces challenges in being able to effectively acquire, preserve, and provide access to supplemental audio and visual content. These challenges include:

1) Passive collection of supplemental media: It is difficult or impossible to know how much of this type of content might be out there that is related to journal issues and articles and how much out of that total we have received over the years.

2) Unclear rights issues: This content often has copyright holders that are different than the publisher. In JSTOR’s case, rights for these materials were not included, or even considered, in negotiations for digitizing the print issues of journals.

3) Nature and importance of the material: Before undertaking efforts to preserve this kind of content, there are questions about whether it is unique and needs preservation or not and also what its relationship is to the print articles, whether it is integral and therefore vital to the articles or optional.

4) Conversion/Obsolescence issues: There are many different types of media and digital file types.

5) Organizational priority issues: This is a pretty small amount of content, so getting the time and resources to do something with it is difficult.

This paper will discuss the issues described above and what we at JSTOR have done, and not done, to address these issues and to find a way to convert and preserve this material.