Who are we? We’re a couple of librarian professionals who work at Rice University. One of us specializes in special collections; the other in metadata. We both care passionately about preservation -- be it physical objects or files on a hard drive.
We’re also music enthusiasts with a special interest in independent bands and labels recording out of their bedrooms. We consider homegrown music a part of our shared cultural heritage. Unfortunately, technology has changed so quickly in such a short amount of time that very few people know how to prevent the loss of their work. It used to be that we would seal our work in a hatbox, stashing it on a closet shelf, and feel satisfied that it would still be there in 30 years (even though there’s nothing special, preservation-wise, about a hatbox). Nowadays, people assume they can save their digital life by stashing an external hard drive in the closet next to the hatbox and be set for 30 years, even though the life expectancy for a hard drive is… well, we’ll get to that in due time.
Earlier this year, we conducted an online survey examining the ways that independent and do-it-yourself record labels keep track of their materials. We contacted small labels -- from companies of about 10 employees to operations run out of someone’s kitchen -- and eventually heard back from more than 150 labels in over a dozen countries. They gave us lots of fascinating information (which we hope we can share soon), but for us, the most important discovery was that most of the labels are concerned about preservation, and want to learn how to, well, save their stuff.
The end result is Indie Preserves, a blog where we will share practical preservation tips, free of charge, for anyone who wants them. As the name suggests, the intended audience are the indie labels who explicitly told us they want help. But the advice posted in this blog is for anyone trying to preserve their work -- whether it’s on a hard drive or a cassette tape -- for years to come. Remember, if it’s important to you, then it deserves to be saved, and you shouldn’t count on anyone to save it but you!
Got a request? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do to help.