November 17, 2000 Library of Congress Leads Audio Preservation Initiatives for the 21st Century
Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
On November 9, President Clinton signed the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, establishing the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress (P.L.106-474). The new law was introduced and supported by Representatives William Thomas (R-CA) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Senator John Breaux (D-LA) to encourage the preservation of historic sound recordings, many of which are at risk from deterioration. It directs the Librarian of Congress to name sound recordings of aesthetic, historical, or cultural value to the Registry, to establish an advisory National Recording Preservation Board, and to create and implement a national plan to assure the long-term preservation and accessibility of the Nation's audio heritage.
The advisory National Recording Preservation Board will be made up of leaders in the field of music, sound recording, librarianship, and audio engineering. Through consultation with this Board, and studies conducted by the Board, the Librarian of Congress will commission and carry out a national preservation plan for historic audio recordings. The plan will outline recommendations on the use of new technologies for preservation, programs to increase public awareness of audio preservation, and strategies to increase accessibility of sound recordings for educational purposes.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington stated, "It is gratifying to know that Congress has recognized the challenge of preserving the historic sounds and music of America and entrusted the Library to lead this effort. Audio preservation has long been a priority of the Library of Congress. The National Recording Preservation Act will help the Library of Congress and other libraries and archives preserve their audio holdings for study and enjoyment by many generations to come."
The Library of Congress has been a leader in the audio preservation field for more than half a century. Its Recording Laboratory has been reformatting audio recordings for preservation since the late 1940s. Several important audio preservation initiatives are now under way. Leading them is the establishment of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia, which includes state-of-the-art archival storage facilities and preservation laboratories for motion pictures, video and sound recordings. It is scheduled to open in 2004. While the Center is being designed, audio engineers, archivists, and information technology specialists at the Library are building the prototype of the Library of Congress Digital Repository for the preservation of audio and video. It will be the first digital preservation initiative for sound and video recordings undertaken by a major archives in the United States.