A Systemic Approach to the Preservation of Audio Documents: Methodology and Software Tools

This paper presents a methodology for the preservation of audio documents, the operational protocol that acts as the methodology, and an original open source software system that supports and automatises several tasks along the process. The methodology is presented in the light of the ethical debate that has been challenging the international archival community for the last thirty years. The operational protocol reflects the methodological principles adopted by the authors, and its effectiveness is based on the results obtained in recent research projects involving some of the finest audio archives in Europe. Some recommendations are given for the rerecording process, aimed at minimising the information loss and at quantifying the unintentional alterations introduced by the technical equipment. Finally, the paper introduces an original software system that guides and supports the preservation staff along the process, reducing the processing timing, automatising tasks, minimising errors, and using information hiding strategies to ease the cognitive load. Currently the software system is in use in several international archives.