Digitizing groovy records

Library of Congress officials have turned to scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for a way to preserve thousands of recordings on grooved media that fill the library's archives.

The library officials said they want to digitize the thousands of grooved cylinders and disks in its collections. The method must preserve the recordings and make them accessible to future generations.

Through an interagency agreement with the Energy Department's Lawrence Berkeley lab, library officials said they hope to apply the lab's research in elementary particle physics to the problem of reconstructing mechanical audio recordings.

Using equipment designed to help physicists find an elusive particle known as the Higgs Boson, Berkeley scientists can map the grooves etched in aging phonograph cylinders and discs to produce a digital facsimile of a mechanical recording.

According to officials, the library's preservation directorate tries to preserve nearly 500,000 items each year from the institution's collection of 128 million items in hundreds of formats.

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