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Swinging in the Archives: In-House File Transfer of DATs

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Not long ago Digital Audio Tapes (DATs) were a popular medium for professional digital recording. The Smithsonian Institution Archives holds almost 2,000 DATs in its accessions but until recently lacked equipment to retrieve the rich collections of music, interviews, and programs from across the Institution.

Very few archives have conducted in-house transfers of DATs. The Smithsonian Institution Archives launched a successful pilot in 2010 to transfer the audio from the DATs to its secure servers and LTO tapes. These DATs contain priceless material from Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra concerts to Native American radio programs to events at the Freer-Sackler Galleries of Art. This project is making these recordings accessible for the long term, as DAT machines are hard to acquire.

The audio is being saved in the WAV/BWF preservation formats. Best practice procedures include checksums, quality assurance reviews, and regular backups. This paper discusses how the pilot operated and the challenges SIA encountered.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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  • The IS&T (digital) Archiving Conference offers a unique opportunity for imaging scientists and those working in the cultural heritage community (curators, archivists, librarians, photographers etc) from around the world to come together to discuss the most pressing issues related to the digital preservation and stewardship of hardcopy, and other cultural heritage documents and objects. Authors come from museums, archives, libraries, government institutions, industry and academia. Cutting edge topics related to multispectral and 3D imaging, as well as best practices for workflow, sharing, standards, and asset/collection management and dissemination are explored in papers presented at this annual, international event.

    Please note: For purposes of its Digital Library content, IS&T defines Open Access as papers that will be downloadable in their entirety for free in pertuity. Copyright restrictions on papers vary; see individual paper for details.

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