Audio delivery and Enhanced Online Access at the National Library of Australia

The National Library of Australia has recently upgraded its online Audio Delivery system in a way that dramatically increases discoverability and access to the Library’s sound recorded collections.
The Oral History and Folklore Collection is a research collection of unpublished materials: it is the principal oral history collection in Australia and includes the major collection of Australian Folklore field recordings. It is a significant collection of valuable and in demand research materials which we have long sought to make more discoverable and available online.
Oral History and Folklore recordings are sound documents by their nature. The written transcript fails to convey the complete meaning inherent in a recording, and is sometimes even misleading. However, researchers need a way to search and evaluate the recordings. Users of the collection find an undocumented sound recording difficult to navigate; audio cannot easily be skimmed and must be listened to in real time.

To meet this need the Library developed a schema in structured language (TEI XML Text Encoding Initiative, eXtensible Markup Language) and an online software tool in which interviewers could summarise their interviews using time coded links to the audio. The most significant aspect of the tool is that the search returns the relevant piece of audio which, in fact is the primary document and the principal carrier of the information.

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