An archive is not always a static place especially now in modern society with its rapid changes in technology and methodology. The western world is reducing its need to create or access its collections through textual means due to the advent and prevalence of digital tools. The days of creating and viewing written documents and printed images are fading fast (pun intended).
Archives are finding the need to convert their collections to digital files for access and backup. This new kind of archive is both a blessing and a challenge. The blessing is that a digital file can be accessed without the need to further touch the original thus eliminating potential damage or loss. The challenge comes from the long and costly process of converting from analogue to digital and the updating of the relevant metadata.
We at the BA are in the midst of such a change. The audio collection is progressing with the majority of programs converted to WAV (bwf) and only those programs that are not clearly labeled, defined or of very poor audio quality from the reel-to-reel format remain. Once these are finished then comes the context as in “time and place” of these recordings into the audio collection. We have lessons from past archival situations in history that the addition of new materials can re-write the way we understand an event or circumstance. It is important therefore that care and due diligence be given to assuring that the audio is correctly assigned the proper and concise metadata so as to eliminate any future questions as to the provenance of a recording due to misinformation by a rush to publish listings or archival offerings.
As part of the transfer we once again had a chance to revisit the first audio recording we have of Srila Prabhupada in the BA. The introduction to the BG made in New York 1966. A recording it so happens made by Srila Prabhupada himself complete with his handwriting as you can see here…