5 Replies to “Survey Report for the 18SS’ Digital Collection”

  1. It’s cool to see your project addressing the digital preservation needs of a volunteer organization. Since this is a performing organization, I was wondering how sheet music is acquired for each season/performance–are pieces purchased in paper format, or digital; are paper editions scanned; are PDFs pulled from IMSLP.org? I’m curious if there is a need to create a “digital music library” separate from preserved institutional records, i.e., should financial and business records exist in the same collection or storage system as sheet music holdings, archived recordings, and promotional materials?

    1. For any music that is in the public domain, the artistic director gets digital copies from sites like IMSLP.org or CPDL.org, and prints them out for the members. For music under copyright, I believe that our artistic director purchases digital copies, and again has printed copies available for the group. Occasionally the group has purchased scores, like when we did the Faure Requiem or the Martin Mass for Double Choir, but that’s very rare. In addition, these digital files have also excited in the member’s only wiki on a specific page set up for that season’s repertoire. As I mentioned, I discovered during my review that when the choir switched hosts for the website, that also affected many files that are saved in the wiki, so now I can’t access any of the old sheet music.

      I completely agree that there needs to be a dedicated space to for a digital music library that holds the sheet music, along with the audio and video recordings. What I’m wrestling with now is thinking about what kind organizational and preservation platforms to use for this storage. I agree that the business dealings of the choir should be separate from any sort of digital music library, but at the same time I wonder if having everything in one place might be easier on the leadership of the choir to maintain everything. I need to think about this a little more.

  2. This is an interesting project because it seems really typical of a lot of small organizations that have some continuity but no formal archive. Their situation is also similar to that of a lot of us as individuals — some files are saved in this account, some stuff is on a social media profile, these other files are somewhere in an email attachment, etc.

    It seems to me that there is a distinction between these organizations — or me as just one person — and heritage organizations like historical societies, house museums, and libraries. At least with the latter groups, there is a long-term mission of preserving knowledge that is conducive to planning digital preservation. For organizations like your choir, it is not as obvious that they should be thinking about whether their files will open in fifty years. It’s more a matter of getting organized at all.

    I don’t mean to be dismissive! –I just think this project is really challenging, when you think about how to keep this kind of content accessible over time. I’ll be interested to hear what recommendations you come up with!

    1. I definitely don’t think you’re being dismissive, and I’ve been thinking the same things for the past few weeks! You’re completely right in that cultural heritage institutions innately are called to preserve knowledge over time which meshes well with digital preservation, while the choir just needs to get some sort of functional organizational system under it’s belt. I don’t think our choir is going to go down in history with the likes of the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, but I do think there is merit to putting together some kind of system that not only organizes the choirs holdings, but puts into place a procedure to ensure that our most valuable holdings (mainly recordings) are renderable in the future. We’ll see what I can figure out…..

  3. Hi Sarah and Jeff,

    This project has made me realize that digital preservation is just as important from a records management standpoint as from an archival standpoint. Sarah, I feel that both your organization and mine have aspects of both, and this records-management aspect sets them apart from most of the other projects in our class that are dealing with archival holdings (which are obviously just as important! It just provides a new, different challenge). The administrative files, like you say, are important to not only preserving the memory of the choir, but more practically, for the future members of the choir to utilize! This is the same in my organization, where the research documents and previous grant materials are very important for future people working on the project to be able to access. However, both of our organizations also hold materials that could be classified as archival: your audio and video recordings and sheet music, and the photographs and maps held by my organization. This in a way makes them crosses between small “administrative” organizations and the small heritage organizations that you describe Jeff. My organization actually is a historic house! But these administrative documents are not innately thought of as having “archival” value, and so do not receive the treatment that collections at an archives or library would. Everyone else’s projects, regardless of the level of digital preservation going on, showed at least basic arrangement, description, and access efforts. The added challenge of records management that is present in our two projects is the sever lack of all of those important things!

    Good luck with your plan! (And with the work you’ll probably get stuck with…!)


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