Sadly the picture below doesn’t capture the excitement with which I unwrapped this latest addition to our service! As part of the fantastic new facilities in Heritage Quay we will have a dedicated Listening Room that will allow us to make thousands of archival audio recordings fully accessible to our users for the first time. With a turntable and specialised PC (with a digital audio workstation) our users will be able to listen to vinyl and digital archival recordings to their heart’s content.
Meanwhile the significance of this tape deck reflects the fact that a large proportion of our audio recordings are currently stored on obsolete cassette formats that place these unique audio records at significant risk. Good quality playing equipment for such formats is becoming increasingly difficult to source and the fragile nature of cassette tape increases the risk of damage and the loss of these vital records for future generations. In response to this, our listening room will be equipped with archival quality digitisation equipment that will allow us to migrate these records onto much safer and more stable formats, thereby ensuring their continued access into the future (when subject to our professional collections management procedures obviously!). However the value of undertaking this digitisation work is not just limited to the improved preservation of the recordings. Migrating these records to digital formats will allow us to increase access to them and enable our users to engage with them in far greater and more diverse ways.
Plans are being devised as I speak, but I’m sure they’ll be involving our exploration space and the big curvy screen, not forgetting our Participation and Engagement Officer of course!