British & Irish Sound Archives conference 2016 - abstracts

British & Irish Sound Archives conference 2016, Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Cultra, Northern Ireland, 18-19 November


The Near Archive, the first digital audio archive of community radio content in Ireland.
Paul Loughran (Near Media Co-op)

In October 2014 Near FM was awarded funding by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to build a dedicated digital archive for a discreet collection of content. The material is taken from our flagship radio programme Northside Today between the years 2011 and 2016. The content is unique to Near FM and the surrounding locality and encompasses themes including local/social history/folklore, arts/culture, sport, community events and current affairs. The archiving consultation on the project has been undertaken with the Digital Repository of Ireland.

Integrated Approach
Our integrated approach includes awareness-raising in partnership with Dublin City Libraries with demonstrations/workshops for the general public. We have presented the Near Archive at the Dublin City Libraries assembly on Sept 1st, and we are due to demonstrate the archive to local libraries in Oct 2016.
On November 21st the Near Archive will be presented as part of the explore your Archives week, being hosted by Dublin City Library & Archive. (

Access and content is free to all. Content can be streamed or downloaded and works on a creative commons licence and cannot be used for profit making purposes. The archive will be used, initially, by Near FM internal users (producers, volunteers accessing archival content for programming) but we encourage the use of our archive among the general public, library users, students, academics, researchers, community activists and not for profit media practitioners.

Broadening the reach of the Broadcast Sector
All of the programme material in the archive was produced in the Irish state and first broadcast on community radio. Through working with Dublin City Library & Archive and the Digital Repository of Ireland, Near FM can offer these organisations and the general public access to archived community radio content, which will in turn compliment research and knowledge in relation to Irish archives. This will be a new venture for all involved and will lead to shared experience and knowledge in relation to archiving of audio material.

Living Archive
We see the Near Archive as a living archive and we plan to grow it into the future with some of the many and varied programming produced in Near FM. The Near Archive will be officially launched in November 2016.

Partners and funders
Craol (Community Radio Ireland) -
Broadcasting Authority of Ireland -
Digital Repository of Ireland -
Dublin City Library & Archive -  

Preserving Playability: using audiovisual resources to enhance access to the Irish Traditional Music Archive's (ITMA) printed & manuscript music collections.
Piaras Hoban, ITMA Digital Projects Officer

Multimedia integration now offers the potential to explore new platforms of user access. This presentation introduces ITMA's approach to making historical printed & manuscript sources accessible online. In particular it focuses on the incorporation of sound and video resources to enrich user listening & learning experiences.


The Bake Collection of the British Library Sound Archive: Global Perspectives on Historical Sound Recordings from South Asia
Christian Poske, AHRC Ph.D. Student, British Library and School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Arnold Adriaan Bake (1899-1963) extensively documented the folk music and dance traditions of South Asia through audio recordings, silent film recordings, still photographs and transparencies that he made during nearly twenty years of fieldwork between 1925 and 1956. In 1948, Bake became lecturer in Sanskrit and Indian music at the School of Oriental and African Studies, where he supported his lectures with film and music presentations based on his fieldwork. The extant audiovisual material related to his fieldwork is now stored in four institutions in three countries, namely the Berliner Phonogrammarchiv, the British Library Sound Archive, the School of Oriental and African Studies and Leiden University. Since the 1980s, ethnomusicologists have been able to correlate a substantial amount of this material and utilised it for diachronic restudies that evaluate continuity and change in South Asian performing arts. In the course of these restudies, repatriations to South Asian sound archives have been carried out, and the relevance of Bake’s archival material to Indian diasporas has been explored. This paper discusses the issues involved in these processes, which include the ethical implications of working with archival material collected in colonial times and the development of South Asian copyright legislations, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of physical repatriations and an online dissemination of archival material. Through this, the paper throws light on the interrelations between performers in countries of origin and European and Indian academicians, and on the agendas of academic institutions and sound archives.

Keywords: South Asia, music, dance, performing arts, archiving, repatriation

‘You Are Hear’ – an HLF-funded project to preserve and provide access (in some interesting ways) to archive sound recordings
Martin Astell, Senior Archivist (Sound and Video), Essex Record Office

The Essex Record Office project ‘You Are Hear: sound and a sense of place’ is currently in the second year of its three-year delivery phase. The project aims to digitise and catalogue heritage recordings from the Essex Sound and Video Archive, and then share them to encourage people to develop their sense of place.

This paper would offer the opportunity to examine some of the practicalities of getting the project off the ground and the outputs of the project as they are being delivered.

I would expect to cover the following subjects:

  • Applying for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund
  • The development phase: getting ready to deliver the project
  • Copyright and permissions
  • In-house digitisation
  • Providing online access to recordings
  • Public engagement events
  • Sonic listening benches
  • Interactive audio-visual kiosks
  • The Essex Sounds website

By demonstrating some of the ways we have sought to take the recordings out into the community, providing easy access to them, and helping people engage with them, I would hope to give attendees some inspiring ideas for how they might open up their own collections.

And in discussing some of the issues encountered, I would aim to help people avoid potential difficulties and offer practical solutions.

Surveying the UK’s audio landscape
Will Prentice (The British Library)

The British Library has recently conducted two in-depth surveys of sound collecting and preservation practice across the UK. This paper will present an overview of the results, and discuss ways in which the British Library aims to use them.

Saturday workshop: Packaging audio files and metadata for preservation and access
Will Prentice (The British Library)

This informal workshop will explore ways in which file-based audio can be packaged and preserved for the long term, ensuring authentication of the content and optimising public access. While based on methods developed by the British Library, it is intended as a discussion where others can share their own thoughts and experiences.