In July 2022, the Sounds for the Future project has been up and running for two months and this blog looks at the reasons for running the project, what we have done so far and the issues this has raised.
What is Sounds for the Future?
This is a project that is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and is being run by the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA), based in the Centre for Urban History, and the University’s Special Collections. The project will run from May 2022 to October 2023 and will secure the future of the collections of the EMOHA.
Why is it necessary?
In the past, many of the oral history recordings in EMOHA’s collections were archived to CD-Rs. These are now at risk of deterioration, as are several collections of tapes that have never been digitised. There is also a large backlog of cataloguing, which means that many recordings are not available to be listened to.
What will the project do?
Sounds for the Future will preserve all of EMOHA’s collections in a new digital preservation system and bring the cataloguing up to date. This will make everything more accessible and easier to use. The project will also create lots of opportunities for volunteers to learn about oral history, audio preservation, and how to use oral histories to explore local history and heritage.
Meet the team
Colin Hyde is the project manager, Ruth Maguire is cataloguing and rights clearance officer, Lily Skelton is the metadata officer, and Richard Wheelband is the digital engineer. Colin, Ruth and Richard all worked in Special Collections as part of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project (2018-2021), and we are using many of the methods and procedures from that project in Sounds for the Future.
All of the following issues will be expanded on in future blogs:
- The failure of CD-Rs – why they are not what we thought they would be?!
- Keeping audio preservation equipment going
- Migrating the EMOHA catalogue into the CALM catalogue
- Migrating the EMOHA collection into the Arkivum digital preservation system
- Creating opportunities for volunteers
- Creating oral history resources for schools
- Spreading the word – talks, podcasts and blogs
In the first two months we have digitised a collection of old reel-to-reel recordings from the Record Office for Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland, and ‘ripped’ the sound from the CD-Rs on which Leicester’s Community History project and Coalville’s Mantle Oral History Project were digitised some 20 years ago.
We have taken in a new collection of analogue recordings from Northampton Libraries, and also catalogued several collections that hadn’t been catalogued before. And we have successfully imported our first collection into CALM!
Our first volunteers have started helping us with the cataloguing, and also with digitising themed compilation tapes that were compiled in the 1980s by the Leicester Oral History Archive.
We will continue to blog about what we are doing and about the archival issues raised by the work. Watch this space!