The British Library has been creating and archiving digital audio since 1984, and has dedicated significant resources to digitisation and digital preservation ever since. However it wasn’t until 2012 that we began to draw up a strategy to ensure the digital preservation of all of our audio collections, and a comprehensive plan has subsequently been produced. But what took us so long? What is it that prevents a repository – large or small – from undertaking such an important activity?
This paper is intended as a call-to-arms, and a plea for all repositories of audiovisual materials to confront the difficult, crucial question: Can we preserve our collections in time? It will discuss the British Library’s plan, but will also explore the creation of large-scale digitisation strategy more generally, consider why it often gets put off, and suggest ways of overcoming this.