The Curtis Institute of Music’s collection of audio and visual files is vast, and rapidly expanding. There are about 100 concerts in the student recital series alone, plus orchestra concerts, operas, masterclasses, and tour performances each year. Each student recital needs to be recorded and cataloged for future reference. Audio files can range from 100-300MB and video files from 1-8GB.
The Tech Decision
While the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Penn. had already taken steps towards migrating its huge collection of recordings from tape cassettes to CDs, the accelerated rate of format change proved difficult to keep up with, and Curtis began to look towards a better long-term storage solution.
CD copies of recordings from as recently as 2002 are starting to decay, and some files are beginning to become corrupted. What’s more, the Library is physically running out of room to store all of the CD copies.
“We have a couple of thousand CDs and DVDs just of student recitals” says Molly O’Brien, Media and Metadata Librarian at the Curtis Institute of Music. “Sometimes CDs and DVDs can go missing, but with a digital copy, that can’t happen. Many of our students are actually quite wary of using CD copies because these days they expect to be dealing with files streamed over the Internet. The quality of sound on a CD is not as good as the master .wav file.”
Although some of the archive’s records will be public information, Curtis needed a long-term storage solution that would provide different levels of access. For example, student recitals will not be available to the public as they are subject to copyright issues, and are primarily used as a learning tool for students and faculty. In addition, the Institute will also be ingesting institutional records, which can be accessed by certain people within the Institute’s administration.
The Curtis Institute of Music opted for the Cloud Edition of Preservica.
“We’re a small institution with shared IT amongst other organizations – we made the financial decision not to purchase a server,” says Barbara Benedett, Digital Archivist at the Curtis Institute of Music. “Through Preservica, we’re able to use Amazon Web Services which is ideal for us because it enables streaming. Most of the other platforms don’t do that, or they aren’t set up to deal with as much audio and video as we have.”
Preservica’s Cloud Edition is a comprehensive, fully cloud-hosted active preservation and public access solution. It is ideal for small to mid-sized organizations looking for a complete out-of-the-box preservation solution that does not require any local IT resources or servers. Using Preservica Cloud Edition the administrator can control who can see and use specific content, so they are only accessible by the intended audiences.
“In addition, Preservica works together with our ArchivesSpace catalogue software to create a user friendly, seamless archives management tool. This makes everything much easier to find, so staff and students can search and explore the collection themselves,” says O’Brien.
“Curtis’ audio department does all of the recordings for the recitals and performances,” says Benedett. “We’re hoping to take a lot of work off their hands by eliminating the student requests that are going to them. Once we can start ingesting recitals, students can browse the access portal we have set up with Preservica and find what they need.”
Preservica’s digital preservation and access technology will enable Curtis’ Library and Archives to become much more productive. “If staff are putting together a collection, they can just login to Preservica online to access it,” says O’Brien.
“Moving away from CDs towards streaming will have a huge benefit for Curtis,” says Benedett. “With Preservica, we’ll be able to offer students and staff a much more efficient system where they can access files quickly, easily, and securely.”