- The Boston Public Library Is Digitizing 200,000 Vintage Recordings

“Through this innovative collaboration, the Internet Archive will bring significant portions of these sound archives online and to life in a way that we couldn’t do alone,” David Leonard, president of the Boston Public Library, says in a statement announcing the initiative.

The library’s collection of 78 rpm recordings, fragile precursors to the LP that were made from shellac, will be included in the digitization effort as part of the Internet Archive’s Great 78 Project, which is working to preserve more than 20 collections of obsolete sound technology.

“The simple fact of the matter is most audiovisual recordings will be lost,” says George Blood, an audio preservation expert who will work on digitizing the library’s collection, according to the library’s statement. “These 78s are disappearing right and left. It is important that we do a good job preserving what we can get to, because there won’t be a second chance.”

Sweeney reports that officials from the Internet Archive have already started boxing up the recordings, which will be sent to Blood in Philadelphia. Where rights allow, the digitized recordings will be available for free streaming and download. Physical copies will be stored in San Francisco, where the Internet Archive is based.

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