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Musings of a librarian, former archivist, musician, bibliophile, and tech-obsessed.


Audio Problems Finally Solved

I started my work day by taking apart the Otari with the hex screwdriver, and then, for over an hour, tried to find the internal switch to go from 15ips to 7.5ips. After I decrypted the manual (on page 5-5, "big P.C.B. Ass'y"="big printed circuit board assembly"), and found the corresponding location referred to in the most basic diagram the manual refers to, I was able to start to digitize the reels. However, unlike most small reel players, you do not depress the external button, you just flip the internal switch. That gave me a pretty interesting recording before I realized it was playing at 1/4 speed. I'm creating internal documentation for anyone else that might have to digitize anything if I'm out for some reason because I don't want to give anyone the headache I've had the last two days!

Screenshot of the diagram and photos of the internal switch:


Audio Anxieties

The last two days I have worked on the beginning of a large audio request for a researcher. These requests are part of a larger project in which I have collaborated with the Music Librarian, and will culminate in a lecture on November 17. While it was fun to digitize the first 7" reel, but because it was recorded at 3 3/4 ips and extra tape was added, the recording is over 2.5 hours per side! In between other requests and a grant-writing webinar yesterday, this is why it took two days to completely digitize this one reel. The biggest problem created by a tape this length is that it creates unusually large files (the raw project file is 4.2 GB, per side!). I am going to have to listen to both sides tomorrow and divide the files into manageable chunks, closer to 2 GB, which seems to be the limit for my software program.

Some of the other reels the researcher requested are 10.5" reels. I have only used our Otari once before, and fortunately, the previous reel was recorded at 15 ips. Today's reel was recorded at 7.5 ips. For those of you who haven't had to change the configuration for ips before, it is apparently easy but hard to access on these larger machines. After finally locating a user manual online, and then downloading a .rar expander for Mac (which was harder to find than the correct Otari manual), I finally realized that not only do I have to push the button on the front, I have to take off the back and right side panel and flip a switch. Unfortunately, the archives does not own a hex screwdriver set to remove the side panel. I am going home, bringing in some proper tools, and will hopefully finish setting up the player tomorrow!

The final thing that really got under my skin today, is that I had to level the player head and the archives has no level. I finally got out my Android and used my Bubble Level app.

As a final note, the guy who runs Analog Rules! has many more reel manuals than just the Otari MX5050-BII. I highly recommend his site!


Celebrating World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2011!

I'm celebrating World Day for Audiovisual Heritage by going through the audiovisual stacks and doing a quick sniff-test survey. While we keep our stacks at a comfortable temperature for the media, some of the material was in unstable conditions before coming to the archives and needs to be monitored. Because I don't have the time to perform in-depth preservation surveys on our collections (except when processing), I've found that the sniff test does a pretty good job at detecting problems in the majority of our collections. Just recently, I discovered that some of our School of Music reels were on bad stock and were degrading. In the past year, I discovered some film from one collection that smelled fine last year is now starting to degrade. The films come from the same collection of films from which I isolated and froze 50 reels this summer.

Archivists need to be more aware of audiovisual materials in their collections, and doing quick preservation surveys are a great way to be proactive about issues. While this survey only addresses one of the many issues surrounding audiovisual media, it's definitely a start. I recommend using World Day for Audiovisual Heritage as a reminder to survey collections!


My Day at @LibraryCongress

Here are my notes from the symposium, Transitioning to a Digital Future, from LC last week. Any mistakes are my own, and probably resulted from me trying to type too quickly and keep up with the conversation. I don't think that the official transcript is posted, yet, and I will link to it when it is.


A Day at LC

Tomorrow, I will be joining many librarians and archivists in the area at the Library of Congress's Transitioning to a Digital Future Symposium. From their site: "The symposium will bring together senior managers from the National Archives, Smithsonian Institution, National Park Service, the Library of Congress, the Council on Library and Information Resources, and various foundations. Speakers will provide their perspectives on the preservation needs, priorities, and challenges in managing the core collections of the federal government in the 21st century, as well as opportunities for collaborative solutions and possibilities for funding." I'll be meeting some of my LC friends and WRLC colleagues there, and learning about how we can conquer the digital world together! Look for me--I'll be the archivist tweeting and taking notes on an ASUS Transformer!