May 26, 2022

Endangered Archive of Siberian Indigenous Voices to Be Digitised

From the Museums Association (UK):

The University of Aberdeen has been awarded $50,000 to digitise an endangered archive containing the voices, stories and songs of the indigenous people of the Siberian region.

The recordings were made over a period of six decades from 1920s to the 1980s and are currently held on cassette tape at Pushkin House in St Petersburg, Russia. Their format means they are in danger of turning to dust within 20 years if they are not digitised.

The archive of cassette tapes is currently housed at Pushkin House in St Petersburg (Image Source: Museum Association)


“This is the largest collection of Siberian indigenous voice recordings in the world,” said Dmitry Arzyutov, an honorary research fellow at the university and co-lead on the project. “It may rival the Smithsonian collection both in terms of its design and scope but remains little known. We hope this project will help to shine a light on this important collection, which is in great risk of disappearing and with it this intimate portrait of lifestyles.”[

“Russian cassette tapes from the Soviet era are particularly fragile and here the process of degradation has been speeded up by water leakages in the building, which have increased the humidity,” Anderson said.

“For the most badly damaged tapes, extracting what they contain requires them to be baked in an oven but after that, you only get one chance at playing them before the recordings are lost.

“We will be working with Russian sound technicians on this process which then requires them to be disassembled, rewound and played at different speeds to remove the interference caused by damage to the tapes, which stick together causing squealing sounds.”


The project is funded by the Modern Endangered Archives Program at the UCLA Library and the Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of philanthropists Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.