Given that there is a Library of Congress, it of course follows that there is a Librarian of Congress: James H. Billington. And Billington recently announced the National Recording Preservation Plan, based on Congress’ National Recording Preservation Act of 2000. The new plan addresses the need to preserve historic broadcasts, interviews, speeches, field recordings, author readings, and other recordings — a staggering list of historic recordings have already been lost, including half of the titles recorded on wax cylinders, recordings of George Gershwin, irreplaceable wire recordings from World War II, performances by Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland, and much more.
The new plan also includes allowing for access to the recordings once they have been preserved — currently only a fraction of the 3,000,000 recordings in The Library are available online. The rest can only be accessed in person, in The Libraries listening rooms.
The new plan was developed by the National Recording Preservation Board, which includes musicians, composers, musicologists, librarians, archivists, and recording experts. The entire contents of the Preservation Plan can be downloaded and will be available on The Library’s website.