NLA Digital collections: Statement of Preservation Intent

Collection Area: Music Collection

The digital component of the Library’s music collection consists of digitised sheet music, audio recordings, and music-related digital files of various types collected from both published and unpublished sources by purchase and donation. In addition, there is some catalogued sheet music has been captured in Pandora (such as PDF files of sheet music) and the preservation of these items can stay within Pandoras remit. All collection materials are collected in accordance with the CDP

The Music Collection intends that:

Digitised sheet music

All of the digitised sheet music consists, currently, of internally digitised representations of hard-copy collection items (e.g. in a image format such as TIFF). In the case of internally digitised files the designated master files are the objects of preservation.

In the future, as publisherspractices change, it is expected that newly-published, born-digital sheet-music files will be acquired. Therefore, content is likely to be obtained by both future digital deposit mechanisms and by acquiring physical carriers.

The preservation intention for digitised sheet music is that the content of these files are preserved in perpetuity. This means that it is appropriate to reformat as needs or technologies demand.

It is important that:

  • The ability to view and print the digital object in its original layout must be retained (pagination etc. to be retained). The ability to edit the files is not required.
  • Intellectual metadata should be retained as long as the content is retained.
  • Derivative files can be regenerated and discarded as required.
  • The file formats that the content is stored in are not important as long as the above is maintained.

Audio files

A small number of independent audio recordings are held in the music collection as well as recordings that are components of multi-component collection items. Currently, in every case, the original files are held on physical carriers (CDs), although many of them have been ingested through the Prometheus workflow.

The intention is that these recordings be selectively preserved in perpetuity. Content not selected for preservation is not required to be preserved.

It is important that:

  • The ability to hear the audio should be retained irrespective of any preservation action.
  • The ability to provide playable derivative copies of the audio to users should be possible. However, these derivates are not required for preservation.
  • The associated metadata should be retained (i.e., track and carrier-level metadata).
  • The relationship (if any) to other collection items (both physical and digital) must be retained.
  • The quality and depth of the original audio data should be retained (i.e., downsampling, lossy compression, and so on, should not be applied).
  • The file formats that the content is stored in are not important as long as the above is maintained.

Music Notation Files

There are a small number of files that are not audio or digitised sheet music currently held in the music collection, all of which are located on physical carriers or subsequently ingested via the Prometheus workflow. The files in question are a mixture of proprietary file formats (such as music notation files produced with Sibelius, Finale, Encore and so on) and open file formats such as MIDI files. Other file formats may also be present in the collection, such as mp3, pdf and others.

The preservation intent for these files will vary according to the reason that they were taken into the collection and their relationship to other items. However, selected items should be preserved in perpetuity. Items will be selected by the collection area, and non-selected items can be ignored for preservation purposes.

  • If the item is part of a formed, named, or multi-component collection then the relationship to that collection should be retained.
  • File metadata should be retained for as long the file content is required.
  • Proprietary formats may have a preservation action carried out on them that allows long-term preservation and access to be retained.
  • Music notation files, should retain the original layout and pagination at all times. Alternatively, the NLA could be given or generate versions of content in more sustainable formats (rendering as an image or document file such as TIFF or pdf).
  • Music notation file that are capable of multiple functions, such as viewing, rendering as audio, and generating a note interchange file such as MIDI. The collection area will need to indicate which of these functions should be preserved on a case-by-case basis. The possibility of converting a single proprietary format to multiple preservation files that each have different functions can be considered.
  • The Music Collection does not wish to retain the ability to edit these files.

Other Issues

  • The content is important, not the logical or physical carrier.
  • The NLA will need to consider the potential relationship of preserved files with future technologies such as music OCR.
  • A means by which the collection area can indicate selection for preservation or not is required given the highly curated nature of the music collection.
  • The question of who will preserve red bookaudio CDs requires consideration.
  • Some music files may be present in other collections – such as manuscripts – and their requirements may be different to those mentioned here.
  • Music notation files have the capacity to retain histories of changes – which is today’s equivalent of composers sketches. Consideration may need to be given to the viability of retaining this information from notation files if desired – although this is more of a question for manuscripts perhaps.
  • Intellectual level of control for files in this collection can be at the file, container or multi content level.
  • Material not selected for preservation will be retained until it is no longer accessible.
  • Music notation is commonly created and stored in propriety file types accessible only through the appropriate propriety applications. These factors and the limited numbers of licences for this software make it problematic to maintain access to this content over time if no action is taken.

Version 1.0 20 March 2013