I attempted to participate in the call today, but technical problems (cough
operator error) precluded my doing so. However, I did want to introduce
myself and give some background on why a military musical organization is
interested in the stewardship of digital assets and how I hope we can
contribute to the conversation.

A quick introduction:
I joined the United States Marine Band in 1995 after completing a degree in
Sound Recording Technology at Depaul University. Since then I've been
responsible for both the audio and video archives of the band and audio and
video production and support.

What have we been working on?:
In 1995, the audio/video archives of the USMB consisted of several thousand
items ranging from wax cylinders to DAT tapes and everything in between. At
the time the only existing catalog was contained in a few drawers of index
cards describing perhaps 3% of the collection. Since my initial task would
involved cataloging, I put together a very primitive flat database and by
2001 I and a colleague I hired in 1998 had the majority of the collection
cataloged. The USMB concurrently had a music library with its own well
developed relational database for describing and finding sheet music. In
2000, the US Navy signed the NMCI contract which would over the course of
the next few years render all of the database applications we were using
obsolete and unusable. Out of that potential catastrophe came an
opportunity to design a system that consolidated all of our disconnected
data stores into a single database that would describe and link not only
sheet music and recordings, but also the concert performance itself and all
of the related locations, people, and circumstances. By 2006 we had
designed and launched a database system with a schema that would wrap all
of our data into a relational web that captured every aspect of a musical
performance including that relevant to the sheet music, concert performance
(asset), and recordings (instantiations).
In the meantime, we continued to catalog our media recordings and
increasingly were turning our attention to digitization. in 1997 I had
begun evaluating our collections and prioritizing reformatting tasks. Our
first effort involved shipping a rather large batch of most critical analog
master tapes to George Blood for digitization and storage. At the time our
storage facility was all but open air so off site storage was important.
While GB was transferring those, I began attacking our most at risk digital
assets: DAT tapes, Betamax F-1 tapes, and CDs, work that would continue
into the mid 2000s, after which I began working back through our analog
tape collections by baking, transferring, and validating catalog records.
By 2006 we had a fairly well established digital collection consisting of
well organized files with multiple dispersed copies that was fairly well
described in our database. Our next task was to make the collection
accessible to our primary community of interest: the musicians and
Directors of the USMB and our audio and video production team (myself and
my colleague). Since we lacked IT support, we designed and built a very
simple searchable online repository, first using PHP and then moving to
Python and flask. This work began in 2008 or so and continued until it
reached maturity around 2012, after which we could confidently say that the
majority of our important recordings were safeguarded, described, and
accessible. At the current time we continue to work in retrograde through
our analog tape archives, we catalog all new audio and video recordings
upon creation, and we are evaluating ways to make our in house solution
more standards compliant and sustainable. Since we designed our system
prior to PBCore or other systems being well established we could gain much
from integrating those newer systems into our work. So we're looking for
the next generation solution.
We have faced many challenges over the years. The biggest challenge was
building rather complicated information systems with no IT support in the
context of restrictive DOD and Federal IT regulations. We have scraped
together open source and off the shelf products and taught ourselves to
code and design database and storage systems, but the organizational
structure of the USMB doesn't support the type of work we're doing and no
other governmental organization (NARA, DIMOC, LOC) has systems or workflows
that accommodate our requirements as an archive, production facility,
performing ensemble, and research facility. Needless to say, inadequate
staffing is a huge sustainability risk that we worry about constantly.
So why am I interested in the Standards and Practices working group? First
and foremost, because I hope that lessons learned from our work over the
years will enable us to contribute something of value to the discussion.
I'm also interested in insuring that the next generation of information
system adopted by the Marine Band and organizations like it be strongly
rooted in accepted standards and best practices.

I look forward to contributing!


Karl Jackson