US Library of Congress Plans to Save Historic Sound Recordings

March 7, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. scheme 
[skeem] (n.) – a project or a plan with a specific purpose
Example: The government’s new scheme will protect the museum.

2. significant [sig-NIF-i-kuhnt] (adj.) – important or valuable
Example: Bert values the pictures of his life’s most significant moments.

3. preserve [pri-ZURV(v.) – to keep in good condition
Example: The museum will preserve the old photos before the pictures fade completely.

4. legalize [LEE-guh-lahyz(v.) – to make something acceptable according to law
Example: The government did not legalize free download of copyrighted materials on the Internet.

5. catastrophe [kuh-TAS-truh-fee(n.) – a very big and unexpected disaster
Example: Floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are examples of natural catastrophes.

Read the text below.

The U.S. Library of Congress will be preserving historical recordings to prevent old audio clips from being lost forever.

This plan will involve providing public access to recordings, developing a secured and lasting storage scheme, and listing of sound collections in a directory. The Library of Congress will also apply for a copyright law that will legalize online streaming of recordings as long as the purpose is academic.

According to the library, historic audios—such as music, speeches and interviews—have been destroyed or damaged by time. In addition, over 50% of the cylinder records were already gone, including records from the 19th and 20th centuries.

One of the missing significant recordings was the audio clip of Enola Gay crew members as they dropped an atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan during the World War II. Also, the composition recordings of American musician George Gershwin were also lost, along with clips of actors and singers such as Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra.

James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, said that people nowadays focus more on making and using recordings than preserving old ones for future use.

Lack of storage facilities and different copyright laws are some of the reasons for the loss, said the Library of Congress. In addition, catastrophes like the 2005 Hurricane Katrina and the 2012 Superstorm Sandy also destroyed some significant recordings.

The Library of Congress does not know yet how much will be spent on the project, probably between $1 million and $1.5 million yearly.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, how can preserving old sound recordings save our history?
·         Do you think a country should allot a budget to preserve historical audio clips? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Why is it important to study history?
·         How do you think your country tries to preserve its history?


March 7, 2013