September 19, 2019

Boston Public Library’s 78rpm Record Collection Digitized and Now Freely Available Online From the Internet Archive

From the Internet Archive Blog Post:

Following eighteen months of work, more than 50,000 78rpm record “sides” from the Boston Public Library’s sound archives have now been digitized and made freely available online by the Internet Archive.

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In 2017, the Boston Public Library transferred their sound archives to the Internet Archive so that the materials could be reformatted digitally and preserved physically.  Working in collaboration with George Blood LP, using their specialty turntable and expert staff, these recordings have been digitized at high standards so that others can use these materials for research.  This is now the largest collection within the Great 78 Project, which aims to bring hundreds of thousands of 78rpm recordings to the Internet.

The records within BPL’s collection represent early twentieth century music and sound recordings from both popular and obscure artists.  78s were made from shellac, a resin secreted from female beetles, and are incredibly brittle and delicate; records can break from simple handling.  Digitizing these records is therefore the best way to preserve not only the music on the recordings but also the original artifact itself, ensuring the continued availability of the resource into the future.

After the recordings were digitized, volunteers with the Internet Archive and the Archive of Contemporary Music linked the sides to published discographies using a mix of manual techniques and custom algorithms to find dates and context.  As a result of these activities, more than 80% of the sides now have dates or links to contemporaneous reviews. Additionally, more than 250 have been matched to sheet music and displayed alongside the music, based on the digitized collections from Connecticut College.  

Learn More, Read the Complete Blog Post

Listen to the Digitized Recordings (via IA)

Background

From October 11, 2017

Holdings from Boston Public Library’s “Sound Archive Collection” are Heading to Internet Archive for Digitization, Preservation, and Public Access

From June 17, 2017

The Internet Archive Announces Ambitious Project to Collect, Digitize, and “Semantically Restore” 78rpm Era Audio Recordings (June 17, 2017)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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