The Boston Public Library has up until now, been storing approximately 200,000 vinyl records. These vinyl records from the library’s sound archives collection were stored in their basement almost never to be played. David Leonard, President of the Boston Public Library, states that the process will put together all the collections they had stored away and made them accessible to the public through the internet, while still preserving the original content.
The internet archive is known to house millions of historical collections that come in a variety of formats such as software, books, and movies. The Boston Public Library’s collection that is currently being transferred to the internet archive is part of the Great 78 Project, whose primary goal is to collect, register, and digitize millions of vinyl records from all over the world.
The vast collection stored in the Boston Public Library contains a lot of music from the 20th century with all types of genres ranging from jazz to opera to pop, and there are also some records that contain spoken words from famous musicians and leaders. Although this partnership with the Internet Archive has been around for many years and mostly involved the digitization of the library’s books, this is the first time it has moved to digitize sound as well.
Laura Irmscher, the Chief of Collections at the Boston Public Library, also says that merely storing the vinyl records is not enough and they need to be made available to the public as widely as possible. Leonard also stated that giving the public access to the collection fits into the Library’ goal of education and cultural enrichment.
The transfer process has already started, and it involves the library’s staff packing the vinyl records and preparing them for shipment to the Internet Archive’s facilities based in San Francisco. However, the entire process could take a few years as there is a substantial amount of records to go through with most of them just getting discovered. Once each of the vinyl records is digitized and uploaded online, anyone from all over the world will be able to access them thereby giving historians, researchers, and general music enthusiasts the opportunity to listen and enjoy these records at no expense.
Leonard also states that all of the recordings will be available in all types of formats that range from re-mastered to raw, hence producing the tapes in a way that will be appealing to both the casual listener and the hardcore listener. The rise of streaming music has brought about a particular interest of listening to music in its original format among many music enthusiasts today.
This announcement that the Boston Public Library will be digitizing its sound archives is in line with the ’20th Century Time Machine’, which is an annual event normally organized by the Internet Archive. All of the staff and managers of the library are excited to be part of this process of taking out they’re unused, dusty content and turning them into something useful for the public.