Columbia College Chicago Student Audio Arts Intern
This spring, the CBMR welcomed Michael MacDonald, a student from Columbia College’s Audio Arts and Acoustics department to do hands-on exploration of audio preservation using materials from the archives. MacDonald had two initial goals—to learn more about audio archiving and to evaluate the CBMR’s in-house digitizing equipment and to assess whether that equipment meets best practice standards that are specified in the IASA TC-04 publication Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects: Standards, Recommended Practices and Strategies. MacDonald began working with the Alice Rosalee Marshall collection of gospel audio recordings, which also contains conference programs and flyers about the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses. He wanted to turn this unprocessed mass of materials that had been delivered to the CBMR in a large plastic bin into a “real” collection. He soon became so intrigued with the materials that he began researching the National Conference on Gospel Choirs and Choruses, making connections between the scant descriptions on the audiocassette tapes and the information from the programs, and listening to the recordings to verify their contents. By the end of his project, MacDonald had successfully organized the materials into a well-ordered and usable collection and had also gained an understanding of archival practice and theory, thus learning what is involved in creating an audio archival collection. This independent study project was coordinated with Ben Sutherland in Columbia’s Audio Arts and Acoustics program and is anticipated to continue as a productive collaboration that will incorporate audio preservation into the AA&A curriculum so that students have opportunities to work with real collections and to learn how to create long-term accessibility to cultural heritage materials.