Training & Advice


If you are unsure how to look after your sound archives, please give us a shout. We can offer advice based on our experience in storing, digitising and cataloguing sound recordings.

Online training

We delivered three series of webinars with the help of the British Library in 2021. This training was free and open to anyone working in a gallery, museum, archive or library in the North West region.

Each run was made up of four hour-long webinars a week apart. You can watch and download some of the course handouts below.

1. Planning and collection preparation

In this session we covered how to audit your collection and the basics of evaluating options to work towards an audio preservation strategy for your service. We discussed the decision to outsource digitisation or do it yourself, and we introduced format identification.

A good place to start when considering auditing your sound collections is to read the description of the British Library’s methodology for producing the UK Sound Directory. You can read the British Library guide Getting Your Sound Collections Digitised – the First Steps.

2. Digitisation and care of formats

In this session we covered assessing, storing and handling different formats:

And the principles of digitisation focusing on tape reel and cassette formats:

We have produced an introduction to the basics of audio and a comprehensive guide to audio carrier identification and preservation. We have also produced detailed process documents for the digitisation and transfer of:

You can also read British Library guides on:

Check out our zines on cassette digitisation and CD ripping.

3. Cataloguing

In this session we covered how Unlocking Our Sound Heritage hubs catalogued sound recordings from audio and existing documentation and how you could adapt this for your repository or project. We also gave tips about how to incorporate catalogue descriptions of sound recordings into your own collections management system.

We are currently looking at mapping from Excel to other systems. Here is an example for CALM, showing one recording in a spreadsheet and in the CALM tree structure, along with a table showing the fields and MARC21 codes.

You can read a British Library guide to cataloguing sound recordings.

Check out our cataloguing zine.

4. Rights and online use

This session presented an overview of how copyright and data protection legislation affects sound recordings and some demonstrations, showing you how to provide access to your sound archives onsite and online. You can read British Library guides on copyright and data protection for sound archives.

If you have any questions about sound archive digitisation, cataloguing, rights or access please get in touch.


So far we have produced three zine guides on how to digitise audio cassettes, how to rip audio CDs and how to catalogue sound archives.

Quiz time!

Test your audio format knowledge and digitisation quality control skills with these quick, fun quizzes.

Blogs showing UOSH processes

The Manchester Studies oral history collection

The Manchester Studies oral history collection

Unlocking the everyday experiences of ordinary people ...


This is a behind the scenes account of how I made the film. For the context of the film and ...
From disc to digital: MiniDisc transfer

From disc to digital: MiniDisc transfer

Tens of thousands of reel-to-reel tapes and cassettes crowd the tall shelves of the Greater Manchester sound archive, held in ...
Conducting Oral History Interviews with family

Conducting Oral History Interviews with family

At this current time when people are strongly encouraged to stay home and to practice social distancing there is a ...

Further resources

Free Open University course including interactive modules on early revolutions in sound recording:

Digital preservation resources from The National Archives and the Digital Preservation Coalition:

From the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA):