Unlocking Historical Audio Collections was a collaborative project between Yale University, Stanford University, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and Syracuse University to provide bibliographic access to 78-rpm (pre-LP) recordings at all four institutions. Funded by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the project contributed full-level MARC cataloging for commercial 78s in the Historical Sound Recordings Collection at Yale, the Archive of Recorded Sound at Stanford, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound at New York Public Library, and the Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive at Syracuse University.
Between 2006 and November 2009, the project placed professional sound recordings catalogers in the libraries of all four participating institutions. Participants in the project divided their cataloging activities according to the first letters of record labels in their collections, so that Yale concentrated on labels beginning with A-D, Stanford on labels beginning with E-R, and NYPL on labels beginning with S-Z. Syracuse, which joined the project in April 2008, concentrated on the Decca label. Click here here for the list of record labels cataloged. For details of Yale University's sound recording cataloging practices click here.
The project was supplemented by pre-existing cataloging created by other institutions, such as the Library of Congress.
The catalog records created for the project were made available in each institution's online catalog, and all records were contributed to the national bibliographic database, OCLC. Cataloging for the project did not enhance or replace the Rigler-Deutsch Index records that were created in the 1980s. Nor did the project provide digitized access to the audio content of the recordings. Instead, the project sought to empower scholars by providing them with unmediated discovery of commercial pre-LP recordings in all fields, and the locations of these recordings in four of the largest audio repositories in the United States.
The project contributed over 24,000 bibliographic records to OCLC through November 2009.