Washington, DC, October 13, 2016—The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) $2,725,000 for a regranting program to digitize "at risk" audio and audiovisual materials of high scholarly value. The program will run four competitions between January 2017 and September 2018, awarding a total of $2.3 million.
Audio and audiovisual recordings document vital, irreplaceable aspects of twentieth and twenty-first century life, but substantial proportions of this legacy will be lost because of the fragility and obsolescence of audio and audiovisual media. Digital reformatting is currently the best available solution for ensuring the survival and utility of recorded content in a variety of formats.
"Identifying top priorities for digitization of rare and unique recordings, as well as setting appropriate standards for the preservation of audio and audiovisual content in digital form, are of paramount importance for the current generation of cultural and information workers," said CLIR Director of Research and Assessment Christa Williford. Williford and CLIR Director of Program Administration Amy Lucko will oversee the program's operation.
To help develop guidelines and criteria for the new regranting program, CLIR will issue a pilot call for proposals, in partnership with the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), in January 2017. The pilot call will focus only on the reformatting of magnetic audio media to be digitized through NEDCC's newly implemented audio preservation service. NEDCC will assist with marketing the call for proposals and work closely with CLIR on advising applicants, but CLIR will convene an independent review panel to assess applications. After the review, CLIR will disburse a total of $150,000, in awards ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, to cover direct costs of audio reformatting services provided by NEDCC.
Following the initial competition for audio reformatting at NEDCC, CLIR will launch a series of three open competitions, disbursing $2.15 million in funds over two years. Calls for proposals will be issued in June 2017, December 2017, and May 2018. Awards from the open competitions will range from $10,000 to $50,000 and will cover direct costs of preservation reformatting for audio and audiovisual content by eligible institutions working independently or with qualified service providers. To make their determinations, CLIR's review panel will assess the potential scholarly or public impact of proposed projects, the urgency of undertaking those projects, the viability of applicants' plans for long-term preservation, and the overall cost-effectiveness of the proposals.
CLIR has long sought to raise awareness about the threats to audio and visual formats through its publications. A series of studies conducted over the past decade, several sponsored by the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, have addressed the legal and practical challenges affecting the preservation of audio content, culminating with The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan. In 2015, CLIR published the ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation in partnership with the Association of Recorded Sound Collections and the Library of Congress.
"The preservation of audio recordings has been a focus of CLIR since its inception," said CLIR President Charles Henry. "As we celebrate our 60th anniversary, this generous grant from the Mellon Foundation allows us to build on our experience to address the urgent problem of audio collections at risk."
For more information on the program, visit https://www.clir.org/recordings-at-risk.
The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning.