Guest Post: The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan by Stephen Bolech

This week’s post comes courtesy our Audiovisual Digitization Specialist, Stephen Bolech. In his work to save the recorded materials in Baylor’s collections, Stephen has kept up to speed on standards and practices in the field. This post gives information on one of the most important, recent publications from the Library of Congress. Take it away, Stephen!

I know Eric has mentioned me on this blog before, but since I’m writing a guest post, I thought I would officially introduce myself.  I am Stephen Bolech, the Audiovisual Digitization Specialist here in the Digital Projects Group.  As my title suggests, I handle all in-house digitization of audio and video materials for Baylor University.  That includes materials in the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project; the George W. Truett sermon discs; audio and video from The Texas Collection, the Baylor University Institute for Oral History, and the Crouch Music and Fine Arts Library; and just about any other A/V that needs digitization.

I wanted to bring to our readers’ attention a document released in February 2013 by the National Recording Preservation Board.  You’ll have to bear with me here, because there are several entities and names that differ by essentially one word.

First a little history: back in 2000, Congress passed the National Recording Preservation Act, which created the National Recording Preservation Board, the National Recording Registry, and the National Recording Preservation Foundation.  The Board was tasked with selecting recordings for inclusion in the Registry, and also with developing and implementing a national plan to safeguard our nation’s recorded sound heritage.  “The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan” is the result of this charge.

Cover, “The Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan”

The Board estimates the astounding figure of 46 million sound recordings held in our libraries, archives, and museums, with many more in the hands of record companies, artists, broadcasters, and collectors.  These sound recordings are an important part of our cultural heritage, and many of them are in danger of being lost forever, whether through degradation or obsolescence.  The Plan is a 78-page document that seeks to outline how to “implement a comprehensive national sound recording preservation program,” part of the mandate given in the National Recording Preservation Act.  Congress also indicated that greater access is the goal of this preservation effort: “The Librarian shall carry out activities to make sound recordings included in the National Recording Registry more broadly accessible for research and educational purposes…”

To these ends the National Recording Preservation Plan identifies four broad categories of recommendations: preservation infrastructure, preservation strategies, access challenges, and long-term national preservation and access strategies.  In total the Plan sets forth 32 specific recommendations related to these areas.  I encourage you to read the Plan, and think about what roles your institution should play in implementing these recommendations.  The National Recording Preservation Board cannot preserve our nation’s recorded sound for us, but they have given us many actionable steps so that we can all play our part in this important effort.

For more information, download a PDF of the Plan at or visit the National Recording Preservation Board website at

Stephen Bolech is the Audiovisual Digitization Specialist with Baylor’s Digital Projects Group. He can be reached via email at

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