New Article Explores Preservation and Access to Two Historical Literary Audio Archives

This blog post was co-authored by Camille Salas (Assistant Head, Digital Content Management Section), Kristy Darby (Digital Collections Specialist, Digital Content Management Section), and Marcus Nappier (Digital Collections Specialist, Digital Content Management Section).

On October 26, 2020, Catalina Gomez of the Latin American, Caribbean & European Division, Anne Holmes (formerly of the Literary Initiatives Division), Kristy Darby of the Digital Content Management Section, and Camille Salas of the Digital Content Management Section delivered a virtual presentation at the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA)/Fédération International des Archives de Télévision (FIAT) annual conference that described the history of two Library of Congress literary audio archives: the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature and the PALABRA Archive. Both archives began in the 1940s and now jointly offer over 700 online audio recordings of about 2,000 Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature and 800 PALABRA recordings made to date. The presentation also touched upon how Digital Content Management Section staff manage the digitized and/or born digital recordings for long term preservation and public release on the Library’s website.

Screenshot of Featured Content from both the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature (top) and PALABRA (bottom).

Following the presentation and great enthusiasm about working with one another, the same colleagues–along with Marcus Nappier from the Digital Content Management Section–were invited to publish a longer article, “Eighty years of literary audio archives at the Library of Congress: Preserving collections from the physical to digital,” that outlined the rich history of the audio archives, and provided more details on the the digital preservation workflows to make these resources available on and the digital preservation practices ensuring the longevity of these assets. The article also highlights the transition of the archives from being recorded on magnetic tape and digitized to now being recorded as digital files. As such, the article touches on how the Digital Content Management Section came into being and its internal iterative practices that led to developing workflows for preserving newer recordings for the PALABRA archive. Since the article was first published, Digital Content Management Section staff continue to refine internal practices to manage the digital recordings and their subsequent releases, cross train new colleagues to support annual releases, and are investigating ways to provide more access to recordings via our Stacks platform ( The collaboration across divisions was an exciting opportunity to demonstrate how Library colleagues all take part in the digital preservation lifecycle. We are excited to share the article in full and we hope you enjoy the recordings from these historic archives.