These days everyone should be concerned about sound and video collections if they are kept on analogue media like cassettes, reel-to-reel tapes, VHS or Hi8 video tapes. All these recording formats are now obsolete. Our project has been helping the Wadeye Aboriginal Sound Archive to digitise and organise their collection in ways that will help to keep these priceless recordings findable and useable into the future.
The first steps are digitising analogue recordings to internationally accepted standards (e.g., for audio, as 24-bit 48khz WAVE files) and describing them using standard metadata containing information such as: original recording format, recordist, date, place, names of those recorded, description of the recording, identifying the language of the content, and a summary of the contents and any copyright or access considerations. Other information about the digital file itself, such as the date the recording was digitised and what equipment was used to do it, its format and resolution, is also needed for long-term management of the recording. We also need to make sure that there is a well managed system for regularly backing up and checking the digital collection.
We have also taken advantage of digital systems to try to make the recordings as accessible as possible within the Wadeye community. We have helped to set up a computer database using iTunes software, which now contains over 2000 locally-recorded songs of both traditional and contemporary band music. Many people in Wadeye regularly drop into the Knowledge Centre to request copies of old songs.