Cook Music Library

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    Preserving Legacies In and Through Digital Access
    (2021) Hahn, Michelle
    Faculty and students of Indiana University's school of music (known as the Jacobs School of Music) have been performing music for a century, and recording it for nearly 70 years, now under the auspices of Grammy Award-winning faculty in the Audio Engineering & Sound Production degree programs. The William and Gayle Cook Music Library has managed, described, preserved, and provided access to those recordings for almost as many decades, setting the gold standard for many aspects of institutional recordings. For 15 years, those recordings have been born digital, and before that were recorded in DVD, CD, VHS, audiocassette, open reel, DAT, and electronic transcription disc formats, with the total number of institutional recordings surpassing 30,000. For 20 years, Indiana University has been developing and supporting a streaming media platform to provide digital access to these recordings and more. Beginning with the Variations Project and Variations2, that access began as client-based software, later transitioning into the web-based Variations3 and now the Avalon Media System. Indiana University’s Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative has digitally preserved the remainder of the institutional recordings. The Avalon Media System preserves Indiana University’s continuing legacy of digital access. The Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative strengthened the preservation of and access to content from local and international legacies in the music world. Practices and procedures for description and access have changed, exponentially so for sound recordings, in the decades that Indiana University has been recording its institutional performances. These repetitive changes left existing descriptions without critical information or with outmoded data. Much of that data is now digital, but an estimated 60% of the descriptions are not yet online. As a result, many users need to know extensive information about their performances decades ago to find and gain access to these recordings with the help of sleuthing by library staff. Efforts continue to aid discoverability through improving descriptive information and logical arrangement. With the growth of digital availability comes the need for growth in data to preserve the content and creator legacies of a world-renowned school of music, making them usable by an even greater audience. This essay highlights the continuity of: Overall and local descriptive practices; Building, managing, preserving, and accessing the collection; and, Project management to increase the granularity and fullness of existing records. Focused on a priority to provide access to unique content, even now in a digital form, the William and Gayle Cook Music Library at Indiana University continues to preserve these legacies.