Press contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639

May 22, 2007

Carl Haber To Discuss Capturing Recorded Sound Through Digital Imaging on June 18

The Library of Congress, in an effort to preserve its collections of recorded sound, is now evaluating a prototype device to extract sound from phonograph records through digital imaging.

Scientist Carl Haber will discuss this project, referred to as I.R.E.N.E. (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, etc.), from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday, June 18, in the Mumford Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The lecture, titled "Capturing Recorded Sound through Imaging: The I.R.E.N.E. Project and Future Prospects," is free and open to the public; tickets and reservations are not required.

Four years ago, the Preservation Directorate of the Library of Congress initiated research collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to study the application of digital imaging to the extraction of sound from phonograph records and other grooved media. This non-invasive approach protects delicate or damaged historical items, and offers a direction toward large-scale digitization of recorded sound collections.

Haber, senior scientist at LBNL, will discuss the status of the I.R.E.N.E. project, as well as plans to develop a second device for high-resolution, three-dimensional surface profiling of grooved media, such as wax cylinders.

According to Dianne van der Reyden, director for Preservation at the Library of Congress, "This project represents a successful partnership between the Library and the scientific research community. The ability to capture sound from otherwise unplayable broken or damaged discs, and to do so in near real time, is remarkable. We look forward to working with LBNL on research and development for the next iteration to capture sound from similarly at-risk 3D audio media such as wax cylinders"

I.R.E.N.E. is a system that rapidly makes a digital image of a disc record. It can efficiently extract sound from an image of a fragile or damaged disc, "heal" scratches or digitally "reassemble" a broken phonograph record. The extracted sound is converted to standard digital files and stored for purposes of digital access and preservation.

Recent surveys of collections nationwide, such as the Heritage Health Index, have highlighted the acute need for large-scale preservation efforts. Millions of historical recordings are believed to be in need of preservation.

The research to be discussed by Haber has been supported by the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Department of Energy, the University of California, the Andrew P. Mellon Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, with more than 134 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library’s Preservation Directorate is the oldest and largest library preservation facility in the nation. The Directorate’s mission is to ensure long-term, uninterrupted access to the Library's collections, either in original or reformatted form. The Directorate’s Research and Testing Division is the premier preservation R&D lab in the nation. It focuses on solving preservation problems facing collections of all types, whether traditional, audiovisual or digital.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory and is located in Berkeley, Calif. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California. Its Web site is www.lbl.gov. The Berkeley-Library of Congress research Web site is http://irene.lbl.gov.

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PR 07-111
05/22/07
ISSN 0731-3527

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