If you’re pursuing a career in music librarianship or audio archiving, the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) is an organization with which you’re hopefully familiar. Whether you’ve read the ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation as part of your coursework, searched for job opportunities on ARSCLIST, or turned to members of ARSCLIB for advice on a newly acquired item of your institution’s collection, ARSC is a valuable resource for any student or emerging professional.
For 52 years the nonprofit organization has brought together private individuals and institutional professionals that are dedicated to the preservation and study of sound recordings – in all genres of music and speech, in all formats, and from all periods. Boasting more than 1,000 members, ARSC is comprised of record collectors, musicians, archivists, broadcasters, engineers, producers, librarians, historians, researchers, reviewers, discographers, and curators.
These devotees to the field of recorded sound share their knowledge and expertise with one another through the aforementioned listservs, as well as through articles, papers, and reviews disseminated in the peer-reviewed ARSC Journal (which was first published in 1968) and in the ARSC Newsletter. In addition, members gather at an annual ARSC Conference for presentations, workshops, and panel discussions on a range of topics, including the preservation of sound recordings, cataloging, archival practices, copyright and intellectual property issues, history and technology, and access to recordings.
Just before starting the MLIS program at UCLA in September, I attended an event where several student organizations spoke about their different activities. When I realized there was not an audio-related group, I felt a bit disheartened. Upon meeting a professor in our department who is an ARSC member, two other students in my cohort and I decided to try and form a UCLA chapter.
While we are acquiring firm theoretical foundations in our classes and honing practical skills at part-time library jobs, I feel that nothing can prepare us more for actual work in the field as much as mentorship from and hands-on experience alongside seasoned sound collectors and audio archivists. Gaining such experiences was my main impetus in establishing the Student Chapter of ARSC at UCLA.
As founder, I drafted a constitution and helped our chapter gain official recognition as a student organization eligible for funding from the university. Each student who was interested in joining the chapter signed our charter, which was then submitted to the Board of Directors of ARSC who voted to approve the chapter’s establishment in October 2017.
Our group, the first-ever student chapter of ARSC, is currently made up of 50 members, and we would love to invite anyone in MLStEP who wishes to participate in our site visits, workshops, or guest lectures to please join us. So far, we’ve worked with the University of California, Santa Barbara to help rescue endangered audio materials in the L.A. area, gained an introduction to a number of rare legacy carriers at the main archive of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and toured the UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive. In April, we’ll be hosting a discussion on scopitones and touring United Recording Studios.
The 52nd Annual ARSC Conference is going to be held in Baltimore on May 9-12. Several of our UCLA chapter members are attending, and we’ll be planning some site visits and activities around the conference. An ARSC student membership is $20 (Basic membership is $45.). It includes subscriptions to the ARSC Journal, newsletter, and membership directory, discounts on conference registration, and unrestricted online access to past conference sound recordings and ARSC Journal contents for a calendar year.
It was so great meeting many of you at the MLA Conference in Portland, and I hope to see some of you again soon in Baltimore. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in taking part in our chapter activities in Los Angeles and Baltimore, or if you want more information on the organization.