SDR Deposit of the Week: Save it again, Sam

1951 Louis Armstrong Record Label, photo by Klaus Hiltscher

Back in the 1980s, five libraries -- including Stanford's -- undertook an effort to provide better user access to their sound recording collections. The result of this effort was a union catalog of pre-LP disc holdings that made it possible for users to find out what each of the five institutions actually owned.

The Rigler and Deutsch Record Index included images of about 615,000 discs as well as an index to the disc photography -- all on microfilm -- as well as a MARC record of the index on magnetic computer tape.

Fast forward to today, when a new project is being undertaken to rehabilitate the original metadata and extend its reach using linked data. But what was modern technology then, isn't modern technology now, and taking advantage of the SDR is a great way to further improve upon not only accessibility but also the longevity of data from projects like these.

The first stage of the new project was to recover the bibliographic data from the magnetic tapes. Sadly, some of the tapes were degrading and not all of the content was recoverable. Because of that, the microfilm index will need to be scanned to fill in gaps in the data. And since the images of the discs are the original sources of the metadata, efforts are underway to digitize and preserve them as well.

Once all the metadata (or as much as possible) has been recovered, efforts will begin to reconcile and extend these records with existing metadata at Stanford and OCLC.

With a project like this that spans 30 years or more of effort (not counting the years that the content spans!), it's important to keep track of what was done then and what is being done now.

Jerry Persons, former Chief Information Architect at Stanford Libraries, has created a collection in the Stanford Digital Repository for tracking both the history and the current progress of the Rigler and Deutsch Record Index projects. He has deposited the final report of the original project as well as reports from the current effort to digitize and improve upon the original output. More deposits are anticipated as this project progresses, so stay tuned!