Case study: Transitioning the largest archive of animal sounds from analogue to digital

Gregory F. Budney, Curator of Audio, Macaulay Library, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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Abstract: The Macaulay Library is the world's largest scientific collection of audio and video natural history recordings. This paper focuses on a recently completed multi-year effort to digitise the archive’s collection of analogue-archived audio recordings. The paper describes that effort, the main principles that guided it and the lessons learned. In particular it emphasises the need to preserve audio assets at the highest possible technical standards, to use technologies with wide industry support and to use a format that facilitates migration to future formats and storage systems. The importance of rich metadata and accessibility is also discussed. The effort to digitise this collection opened it to the world, leading to dramatic increases in its use for diverse purposes ranging from scientific research to the arts.


Keywords: audio, digitisation, natural history recordings

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