Through the broad aims of the School of Music's project Preserving Australia's Sound Heritage, the Archive aims to process selected Australian recordings in the Handa Collection and contribute to the development of a web-based infrastructure to deliver the Archive's collections.
The University of Western Australia (UWA) facilitates access to and stimulates research on the Handa Collection, a significant Australian music collection that was acquired with the assistance of Japanese philanthropist, Dr Haruhisa Handa. As custodian of the Handa Collection, the Callaway Centre Archive was responsible for the delivery of the UWA component of the project.
The primary objectives of the project were to preserve, catalogue and digitise selected sound recordings in the Handa Collection. As part of a web-based research infrastructure, these resources would become available Australia-wide and internationally through the Callaway Centre Archive’s online catalogue and the National Library of Australia’s database Libraries Australia and its Music Australia service. To guide cataloguing and digitisation outcomes, UWA Library was involved in the research and recommendation of appropriate methodologies.
1. Infrastructure & Standards
A Local Reference Database was purchased from Innovative Interfaces Inc. (California, USA). The database, hosted by the UWA Library on its existing Millennium server, was configured by Archive staff who also designed web OPAC screens to meet the needs of the Archive's collections and clients.
The digitisation standards followed the recommendations of the National Film and Sound Archive:
• preservation master-copies to ensure retention of all possible elements of the original recording (96Khz/24 bit linear PCM.BWF file)
• access copies at CD audio standard (44.1 Khz/16 bit linear PCM.BWF file)
• web-delivery copies (mp3 format)
The cataloguing standards followed conventions that would enable entries to meet the requirements of the National Library's bibliographic database. Catalogue records were loaded to Libraries Australia with entries further harvested to Music Australia if they carried Australian content.
To ensure universal availability and sustainability, the catalogue records are housed on the University Library's server and the digitised sound files on the Arts Faculty server.
2. Collection Management
The scale and condition of the Handa Collection (150,000 items representing a wide range of genres from Australia's musical history over the past hundred years) meant that it required specialised collection management.
The project drew on the expertise of specialist staff from the National Film and Sound Library (Dr Jeff Brownrigg and senior adviser Matthew Davies) to devise criteria, recommend priorities, and select materials for the project. Additionally, they provided advice on techniques, equipment, and materials necessary for the handling and processing of fragile sound carriers. Archival quality containers were acquired and the processed materials housed in climate-controlled storage.
3. Cataloguing & Digitisation
Original catalogue records at minimum-level were created for each recording. Digitisation was managed in-house with the acquisition of specialized audio equipment. Processes were developed for the creation of back-up copies and metadata to describe technical information about the recording processes.
4. Web Delivery
Where the digitisation of a recording entailed re-publication, special attention was given to the management of rights. Items in the public domain or with copyright clearance have been made accessible online. Where the management of rights remains an issue, materials are stored securely and are available onsite for research purposes. Online access is available through the Callaway Centre Archive website, Libraries Australia, and Music Australia. Digital objects can be accessed through a link embedded in the catalogue record or via a "Special List" facility that allows researchers to see only those catalogue entries that link to a digital object.
The project resulted in the creation of 3,500 catalogue entries and the digitisation of approximately 500 sound carriers. Amongst these are performances by famed Australian early-20th century musicians and composers, such as:
• Vocalists Rosina Buckman, Elsa Stralia, L’Incognita, Evelyn Scotney, Thea Phillips and Marjorie Lawrence (sopranos); Lionello Cecil (tenor), Hamilton Hill (baritone)
• Violinist Leila Doubleday
• Pianists Eileen Joyce and Percy Grainger
• Composers Frank Hutchens and Margaret Sutherland
The collection also contains historical radio broadcasts, including Bert Hinkler’s 1928 “Message to Australia”.
The following links provide examples of some of the work that has been done:
The Callaway Centre Archive Catalogue Search Page
Handa Collection search page
Handa Collection sound recording catalogue entry
Handa Collection Special List of digital sound objects
Music Australia entry
This infrastructure was established through funding provided by the Australian Research Council's Linkage Infrastructure Projects (project number LE0453614 - Preserving Australia's Sound Heritage (PASH): creating a web-based research infrastructure of major music archives), The University of Western Australia's Research Matching Fund, and funding from Curtin University of Technology. Further support and expertise were provided by the National Film and Sound Archive, the National Library of Australia, and the library at The University of Western Australia. The Chief Investigators acknowledge and thank the above-mentioned organisations for their support.