It is important to preserve audio collections and make them accessible because they contain valuable information not communicated by books and images. When a library or other institution embarks upon an audio digitization project there are many challenges to be faced and many questions to be answered. Because it is outside the scope of this paper to study the challenges of both music and oral history digitization projects, this paper will explore the challenges in digitizing oral history collections faced by a large-scale project, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries; and a small-scale project, the Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC) at the Washington State University Libraries. Best practices for sampling rates and bit depth for archival master and web derivative files, as well as storage issues and workflow management suggestions and examples, are discussed. This paper is only an introductory investigation of the challenges facing libraries and archives that embark on audio digitization projects. There is, as this paper argues, a growing nationwide understanding of the importance of preserving audio recordings through digitization, and the recommendation is made that further research be conducted in the area of audio digitization, to more fully understand and broadly articulate to libraries, museums, and archives the importance of preserving audio recordings at the highest possible fidelity for present and future generations.
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