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Audio heritage

Definition of "Swiss Audio Heritage"
for the acquisition policy of the Swiss National Sound Archives

Introduction

The term "audio heritage" can be understood and interpreted in different ways, depending on the context. For sound archives, such as the Swiss National Sound Archives, this term is of primary importance, as our mandate is based on it. A clear definition of "heritage" forms part of the overall concept of a sound archives facility. It is on the basis of this definition that the collections are built up and all of its activities, ranging from long-term archiving to documentation and to making this heritage available to all interested parties, are carried on.

In the context of the development of a new concept for the Swiss National Sound Archives, the term "audio heritage" has had to be defined to ensure a consistent acquisition policy for the collections. This was even more important in Switzerland, as our country has no law on legal filing requirements at national level. The following definitions, therefore, fill the gaps in law, but they apply only to the Swiss National Sound Archives and its collection mandate in relation to the Swiss audio heritage.

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Legal situation

The acquisition policy of the Swiss National Sound Archives must be inferred from the texts of the Act adopted by the Federal Parliament on the Swiss National Library (SNL), on which the mission of the Swiss National Sound Archives is based, and on the Articles of the Swiss National Sound Archives Foundation.

The Act on the SNL provides:

In Art. 2 - Mission

The National Library has the mission of collecting, inventorying, preserving, making accessible and making known the printed matter or other information supports that have a link with Switzerland.

In Art. 3 - Collections

The National Library collects the printed matter or the other information supports that:

a) are published in Switzerland;
b) refer to Switzerland, its citizens or its inhabitants;
c) are created, partly or entirely, by Swiss authors or authors with ties to Switzerland.

On the basis of this Act, Art. 2 Object of the Articles of the Swiss National Sound Archives Foundation defines the following mission:

The object of the Swiss National Sound Archives is the acquisition, preservation, classification and valorization of the Swiss audio heritage or that is significant for Switzerland, in the form of both physical and information supports.

In particular, the following form part of this heritage:

a) commercial audio documents produced in Switzerland;
b) audio documents produced abroad but whose content is significant for Swiss cultural life;
c) non commercial audio documents deriving from scientific research;
d) non commercial audio documents, in particular "Helvetica" recordings of broadcasters.

For the purposes of a consistent acquisition policy for the collections and their practical day-to-day use, the terms "Swiss audio heritage" and/or "Helvetica" (henceforth "audio heritage") need to be defined more precisely. These definitions are used for establishing the guidelines for the collections to be acquired by the Swiss National Sound Archives.

As already recalled, Switzerland has no law on legal filing requirements at Federal level that could give a more precise definition of audio heritage. Moreover, as the Swiss National Sound Archives has no specific budget for acquisitions, in collecting this heritage it proceeds on the basis of arrangements and agreements with the producers (creators) of audio documents.

Concerning the content of the documents or the characteristics of the collections to be acquired, the term "audio heritage" can take on different meanings. For this reason, it is necessary to divide the audio documents into different groups and to define the term "audio heritage" in relation to each of these groups.

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Acquisition


1.

Audio documents


1.1

Published (commercial) audio documents, that is to say the recordings produced by the record industry:

      a) All the documents published in Switzerland or abroad that contain works of Swiss authors (composers, authors of lyrics, arrangers, ...) belong to the "audio heritage".
      b) All the documents published in Switzerland or abroad that contain works of Swiss performers (musicians, actors, ...) belong to the "audio heritage".
      c) All the documents pertaining to foreigners resident in Switzerland whose cultural activity is significant for Swiss cultural life belong to the "audio heritage".
      d) All the documents published and produced in Switzerland, regardless of their content, belong to the "audio heritage".
      e) All the documents published abroad whose content is particularly significant for Swiss cultural life belong to the "audio heritage".
         

1.2

Published or unpublished audio documents of a fund of materials or a specific collection:

  In this case the definition of "audio heritage" extends to all the documents that are present in a fund of materials or in a collection that exhibits a certain degree of unity in its composition and/or casts light on a specific cultural interest of a Swiss person or institution. The definition of "audio heritage" is applied to the fund of materials or the collection itself.

1.3

Unpublished sound documents produced by scientific research:

      a) All the documents created by a researcher or by a research institution in Switzerland belong to the "audio heritage".
      b) All the documents created by a researcher or by an institution abroad whose contents are particularly significant for Switzerland belong to the "audio heritage".

1.4

Non commercial audio documents of other institutions, bodies, associations or individuals:

      a) All the documents created by institutions or bodies active in Swiss cultural or political life (organizations, orchestras, festivals, concerts, parties, etc.) belong to the "audio heritage".
      b) All the documents created for artistic purposes by people who have a specific relationship with Switzerland belong to the "audio heritage".

1.5

"Helvetica" recordings of broadcasters:

  The audio documents originating from the broadcasters' own production activities belong to the "audio heritage". Their collection and preservation is carried on in collaboration with the archiving services of the broadcasters concerned.

2.

Complementary documents and technical means


2.1

Accompanying and complementary documents:

      a) All the accompanying documents and all the complementary information (on paper or of other types) that contribute to the documentation of the audio carriers belong to the "audio heritage".
      b) All the information (on paper or of other types) that document the history of the audio carriers, the authors, the performers, the production activity (catalogs) and any other documentation that is useful for understanding the audio documents and their content belong to the "audio heritage".

2.2

Technical means:

      a) All equipment and technical instruments necessary for reading or playing the audio carriers (devices, spare parts, ...) belong to the "audio heritage".
      b) All the documentation regarding the history and techniques of recording as well as the documentation related to the production and reading devices belong to the "audio heritage".

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Collaboration

In the acquisition of audio documents, the Swiss National Sound Archives will make an effort to seek the collaboration of other institutions. The Swiss National Sound Archives does not have to acquire all the documents at any price, but, as the center of competence for the Swiss audio heritage, it should attempt to assure the correct preservation and the possibility of access of and to the documents that are to be found in other Swiss institutions. In this case, the Swiss National Sound Archives will try to acquire a copy for its archives.

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Application

The acquisition of sound documents is based on the definitions stated above and is implemented according to the "Guidelines for the acquisition of audio and complementary documents".

The acquisition of audio documents must not be subordinated to difficulties of a technical nature or of any other kind.

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