Major funding boost enables National Library of Scotland to partner with the British Library in a new national network to preserve our sound heritage
A major £18.8 million sound preservation and access project, which has received a £9.5 million National Lottery grant, is launched today [12 April]. The funding will enable the formation of the first ever UK network of 10 sound preservation centres, including one at the National Library of Scotland.
The 'Unlocking Our Sound Heritage' network is led by the British Library. It will now come together to save almost half a million rare and unique recordings that are threatened by physical degradation or stored on formats that can no longer be played.
These recordings tell a rich story of the UK's diverse history through traditional, pop and world music, drama and literature readings, oral history, regional radio, and wildlife sounds from around the country.
The major grant from the National Lottery will allow the network to preserve unique and rare regional sounds and develop a range of engagement activities to connect the wider public with their sound heritage.
The National Library of Scotland will work with archives, libraries and museums across Scotland who have sound recordings in their collections. Examples of the recordings that will be preserved by the project in Scotland include stories of the working lives of people across the country; interviews with prominent literary figures including Hugh MacDiarmid and Edwin Muir; and recordings of traditional Scots music and songs.
Across the UK, the project will preserve oral histories from the two world wars; recordings of local dialects; pirate radio and iconic theatre recordings; music from around the world; and sounds of rare and extinct species. They all shed light on the past and the world we live in, providing a reminder that history is recorded in many forms.
A vital element of 'Unlocking Our Sound Heritage' will be an interactive website hosted by the British Library, allowing listeners to explore a wide selection of recordings. This website is scheduled to go live in 2019.
'Our sound heritage is under threat as tapes, minidiscs, lacquer, vinyl and shellac discs degrade or equipment to play them becomes obsolete,' said Dr John Scally, Scotland's National Librarian. 'This is a vitally important project that will help to save the nation's sounds and preserve them to be enjoyed for many generations to come.'
Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library said: 'We are extremely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund and all our supporters for recognising the urgent need to save these rare, unique recordings from around the UK. The British Library is the home of the nation's sound archive, and we are delighted that this funding will help us preserve our audio heritage for people to explore and enjoy.'
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12 April 2017