Since the early days of the Yeats Summer School, Sligo, lectures have been recorded. Reel to reel audio recordings from the 1960s gave way to audio cassettes in the 1970s, VHS in the 1990s and digital video in more recent years. The recordings form a valuable record of the summer school's activity and are stored in the library of the Yeats Building at Hyde Bridge, Sligo.
Although researchers occasionally had access to these recordings, the collection was not generally used. There was concern for the safety of the tapes, each of which is unique.
In more recent years, the Yeats Society has worried about deterioration of the earlier recordings. In the light of this it was decided the recordings should be digitized, transferred to a more permanent medium and backed up with a second copy of each recording.
The Institute of Technology, Sligo has worked with the Yeats Society down the years. Included in this cooperation has been the donation by the Institute library of a collection of books on Anglo-Irish literature to the Yeats Library.
Because of the ongoing relationship, the Library at the Institute decided to apply to the Heritage Council of Ireland in late 2003 for funding to carry out a digitization project on the summer school recordings. Funding was granted in February 2004.
Institute IT Services specified computing equipment and set it up following delivery. They also drew up an operational manual for Library staff. After training in late May, Library staff began the process of transferring archive material to DVD and CD-R discs.
It was decided to begin with the more recent summer schools where the likelihood of defective tapes was less. This allowed library staff to become familiar with the equipment before tackling more problematic earlier material.
An almost complete set of Yeats Summer School programmes was obtained from the Yeats Society and scanned in the Library. A copy was printed out and used as a guide to tape content.
Each tape was played into a PC and captured using Nerovision software. A menu screen was created featuring an icon for the lecture on a background image of Yeats with the date of the summer school and a copyright statement. Two copies of each lecture were then burned to DVD.
Each DVD was numbered and logged and a record was created on the Library's Online Web Catalogue. This will allow easy location of individual lectures in a sizeable collection of discs which will grow from year to year as ongoing summer school lectures are recorded.
From 1989 back to the early seventies, lectures were recorded to audio-cassette. The Library transferred these to CD-R using the same Nerovision software.
The project results in a set of Yeats Summer School lectures on DVD and CD-R in the Yeats Library and a backup copy in the Institute Library. Equipment is available at each site to view and listen to lectures.
The project's aim was preservation of the recorded content. The copyright of the Yeats Society and of each individual lecture is stated on each DVD. Publication of some or all of the material would necessitate a new project with a different set of aims and approaches. A major issue with possible publication would be copyright in each individual lecture. IT, Sligo and the Yeats Society will consider the issue of possible publication for the future.
The original video and audio tapes will continue to be stored in the Yeats Library. To date no plans are in place for a physical preservation programme for these tapes but this may be considered in the future.
Funding by The Heritage Council