Save our sounds!

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As a member of a UK higher education institution, you have access to something called British Library Sounds, a collection of sounds from the British Library. Coming from all over the world, the sounds are related to a vast number of topics and cover the full range of recorded sounds such as music, drama and literature, oral history and environmental sounds.

However, these recorded sounds are under threat, as the British Library describes:

The nation’s sound collections are under threat, both from physical degradation and as the means of playing them disappear from production. Archival consensus internationally is that we have approximately 15 years in which to save our sound collections by digitising them before they become unreadable and are effectively lost. The British Library is home to the nation’s sound archive, an extraordinary collection of over 6.5 million recordings of speech, music, wildlife and the environment, from the 1880s to the present day. We need both to ensure that the existing archive is properly preserved, and that there are adequate systems in place for the acquisition of future sound production in the UK. The Save our Sounds programme has been created to answer this imperative need. It has three major aims:

– to preserve as much as possible of the nation’s rare and unique sound recordings, not just those in our collections but also key items from partner collections across the UK

– to establish a national radio archive that will collect, protect and share a substantial part of the UK’s vibrant radio output, working with the radio industry and other partners

– to invest in new technology to enable us to receive music in digital formats, working with music labels and industry partners to ensure their long-term preservation

It’s incredible to think that unless the British Library undertakes this project, then these sounds of the past could disappear in just 15 years. To find out more, take a look at the Save our Sounds project website.

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