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Applying Telematics Technology to Improve Public Access to Audio Archives


The main objectives of the JUKE-BOX project were:

- to extend existing library services to provide on-line access to audio archives;
- to develop a multimedia workstation to access audio records;
- to validate new standards for compression and communication technologies.

The project focused on the building of 2 systems: the user system (multimedia terminal) and the archive system (a database of digitised sound recordings interfacing with the sound archive). During the pilot stage the project digitised more than 1000 records which are copyright clear and conducted a survey of user evaluation of the services offered at the multimedia terminal.
Impact and results:

It has been - and still is - extremely difficult to obtain access to sound archives, so that international public and academic utilisation of sound archives, shown to be feasible by the JUKE-BOX prototype, is a very exciting prospect.

The method clearly indicates that multimedia response would be a practical proposition and this has significant implications in extending the role of libraries as total information centres.


The success of the pilot project means that the prototype as a deliverable is a strong foundation for a fully operational system. Certain specifications and business analyses appertaining to the pilot are restricted issue, but documents in the public domain include:

Worldwide survey of services providing access to audiovisual archives;
Survey of collections and catalogue provision in the participating archives;
High capacity data networks;
Analysis of the effects of copyright and other legislation on the service;
The JUKE-BOX catalogue - rules subject categories, multilingual thesaurus of musical terms;
Selecting computer platforms and software tools for the user and archive systems;
Manual for archive staff: operation of the system and registering digitised copies of sound recordings;
Specifying the implementation of the user workstation.
Technical approach:

The project was split into five phases covering analyses, design, implementation, installation and test.

Phase 1 conducted four surveys:

developments worldwide (no direct precedents for JUKE-BOX were found);
archives of participants (source material, subject coverage, catalogue data);
market (service type, materials wanted);
copyright issues.

Phase 2, based on Phase 1 analyses, specified the technical architecture, system functionality and the prototype design. It also selected source material, limiting the capacity to be digitised to 50 hours per archive, which is equivalent to about 1,200 recordings in total.

Phase 3 developed both the archive system and the user station.

Phase 4 installed the systems, effected digitisation of the test records and entered details on to the JUKE-BOX catalogue.

Phase 5 tested the prototype and evaluated the results.

Key issues:

The main technical issues explored were:

- Open libraries to new types of services;
- Development of a multimedia terminal able to provide search facilities and play sound recordings;
- User queries translation into sound archive systems;
- Evaluate MARC capabilities with respect to sound records;
- Investigate copyright problems.

Documentation is available from the contact below and from

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