I.    Introduction

Purpose of the Policy Statement

This policy statement serves as a guideline for collection development, management, and accession activities at the Archives of Traditional Music (ATM). It may also serve as a reference to other library units and administrators at Indiana University.

Audience for Collection Policy Statement

This policy document is intended for the ATM’s collection managers, other librarians and library staff within the Indiana University Libraries system, library administrators, and the ATM’s constituent academic departments. 

Introduction to the Archives of Traditional Music

ATM Mission

The ATM preserves and disseminates the world’s music and oral traditions through the acquisition of cultural and historical materials of enduring value, and advances the educational role of Indiana University by serving an international community of scholars, patrons, performers, and tradition-bearers.

ATM Vision

The ATM will be a dynamic collaborator in the life cycle of ethnographic and musical research and will successfully serve the needs of scholars, cultural experts, and the general public through a concerted effort to innovate in collection acquisition, preservation, and access while adhering to the standards and best practices of our fields. 

ATM Values Statement

The ATM operates with a core set of values that guide our everyday work and the creation of our vision for the future. These values have a long history here and have become part of the working and educational culture at ATM.

We conduct our work and engage in relationships in ways that are trustworthy. We use integrity in both senses of the word. We will do work that is thorough, accurate, and of the highest quality according to current professional standards in library and archival work; and we conduct our relationships with patrons, depositors, and subjects in an ethical manner.

As stewards of valuable cultural artifacts, we work to assure the maintenance and continuity of these materials in perpetuity. Securing the future existence and availability of these artifacts guides everything we do in the present.

We engage overlapping international and interdisciplinary communities of archivists, librarians, scholars, depositors, technologists, performers, and patrons to effectively preserve and provide access to our holdings. We place a special importance on communication and collaboration with the people and groups from whom the material was recorded.

We respect the cultural expressions of the people our collections document and the media upon which they are carried. 

We intrinsically support the work and heritage of others. We provide resources and education by making our holdings and expertise available to local, national, and international publics. We connect subjects, scholars, and patrons in a shared educational enterprise. 

ATM Clientele

ATM clientele is international. We serve students, researchers, and educators of all kinds. Many patrons work in academic settings, but others do research for personal projects or on behalf of cultural organizations or cultural revitalization efforts.

Brief Overview of the Holdings
History of the ATM

The collections that formed the basis for the ATM were made part of Indiana University in 1953 as The Archive of Folk and Primitive Music. It previously existed as a collection under the same name at Columbia University through the efforts of George Herzog and Franz Boas. When Herzog was hired as an anthropology professor at Indiana University in 1948, he brought the collection with him. At that time, it consisted of over 6,000 wax cylinders and several hundred lacquer and aluminum discs. Since that time the collection has grown to over 100,000 recordings and is an internationally recognized repository for ethnographic media collections and commercial recordings that represent international, national, regional, and vernacular musics from all over the world.

Collection Strengths and Weaknesses

Though international in scope, the ATM has several areas of strength. The ATM has broadly representative coverage of places and cultures from the African continent, representing 14% of our field collections. Likewise, we have significant collections documenting the indigenous peoples of North America (12%). Field collections made in Indiana represent 21% of our holdings. In our commercial holdings, early jazz and blues are well-represented, as are the American folk revival period and recordings of international traditional musics. From a disciplinary point of view, ATM holds one of the finest collections of ethnomusicological research in the world, collections by the leading folklorists of the late 20th century, and some of the most important anthropologists of the early 20th century. Over 300 languages are represented in ATM collections with at least 182 of them being endangered or extinct. 

ATM’s collection strengths and weaknesses map fairly closely to those of the area studies strengths at Indiana University Bloomington (IUB) over time. Thus, ATM has significant holdings in Africa and the African diaspora, but has a relatively small number of East Asian and Oceania collections. As the ethnomusicology program became more closely allied with the Folklore Institute and less so with anthropology, the collections have reflected that distance with fewer anthropology collections after 1990. Acquisitions of commercial recordings have decreased significantly since the 1980s and ATM is relatively weak in its holdings of contemporary releases of international traditional and vernacular musics.

Subject Areas emphasized

ATM holdings are defined in large part by disciplinary foci from the fields of ethnomusicology, folklore, anthropology, and linguistics. These disciplinary areas are connected by an emphasis on ethnographic methodologies. ATM collections from disciplines that fall outside of these disciplinary origins (e.g. History) are typically marked by a reliance on ethnographic methods (e.g. oral history). ATM collections tend to focus on cultural performances-- songs, musical performances, rituals, festivals, dance, drama, and narratives, etc., and the study objects, methods, and research questions found in ATM holdings often are often interdisciplinary in nature. 

ATM collecting also acts in relation to other repositories on the IUB campus. We collect early jazz and Dixieland jazz revival music, but jazz after World War II has become the purview of the Cook Music Library and so ATM does not collect those materials unless they are part of a blended vernacular tradition (e.g. Ghanaian Highlife, American Bluegrass, Klezmer, etc.). The ATM does not collect western classical music because of the robust collecting efforts and vast collection of the Cook Music Library, but does collect recordings of classical music traditions outside of Western Europe (e.g. Indonesian Gamelan, Indian Classical Music, and Korean Court Music). The ATM does not generally collect African American commercial popular music after World War II, because that is the purview of the Archive of African American Music and Culture, but does collect manifestations or borrowings of African American genres from prior to World War II or that have developed outside of the United States (e.g. Hip Hop in Malawi, Jamaican Reggae). The ATM does not generally collect commercial recordings of mainstream popular music made after World War II. However, ethnographic work focused on local performances of popular music genres are represented in ATM collections (e.g. an ethnographic study of heavy metal musicians in Ohio, or Reggae musicians in Chicago). As the core fields ATM is associated with have broadened their scope, ATM has maintained a focus on ethnographically oriented material when acquiring research collections.

Collection Locations

ATM collections are held in its climate-controlled vault in Morrison Hall. ATM holdings will be gradually moved to ALF for long term storage, post-MDPI digitization.

II. Scope of Archives of Traditional Music Holdings

Languages collected and excluded

The ATM collects materials in all languages, so as to not exclude any location, country, or cultural group from representation in our collections. Endangered and extinct language collections are a significant part of our holdings.

Geographical areas collected and excluded

All geographic areas are sought and collected. 

Chronological periods collected and excluded

ATM collects material regardless of chronological period as long as they meet the following criteria: 

  1. Audiovisual recordings that fit within scope discussed above, or 
  2. They are materially related to an ATM deposit with audiovisual materials (e.g. an early letter, photograph, or publication that is directly connected to a person in or a subject of a collection), or 
  3. They are materials that provide important historical context for ATM collections, depositors, or the core disciplines within ATM collecting scope. 


Dates of publication and materials collected; current vs. retrospective coverage

Published materials in ATM collections range from the 1800s to the present. The ATM collects published material from any time period as long as it relates to our existing collections and collecting scope.

Formats collected and excluded

As per the “Archives of Traditional Music Accession Policy,” the ATM will evaluate the physical condition of each collection before it is accepted for deposit. While the ATM will make every effort to repair and restore damaged materials, items in extremely poor or fragile condition, or those severely contaminated with mold, insects, vinegar syndrome or other contaminants may not be accepted. 

We will accept a broad range of paper, photographic, and audiovisual formats, but because the ability to transfer audiovisual formats is a rapidly changing landscape, we may reject materials in certain formats that we have no cost-effective way to transfer and preserve, or that represent lower quality versions of commercial holdings that can be acquired on other formats.

III. Collecting Responsibility

For field recordings and collections, collecting responsibility lies with the ATM Director with input from the ATM Archivist. For commercial recordings and books, collecting responsibility lies with ATM Librarian, with input from ATM Director. 

IV. Policy on Gifts

ATM is heavily reliant on gifts and welcomes donations of field, commercial, and broadcast recordings and accompanying material that fits within our collecting scope and that are accompanied by a deposit agreement or deed of gift, and an appropriate inventory. ATM retains the right to dispose of any donated materials that duplicate existing holdings or that do not fit our collection scope.

V. Related Collections at Indiana University

•    African Studies Collection (in particular, the Liberian Collection) 
•    Archives of African American Music and Culture (shared ethnomusicology focus, shared collections) 
•    Center for the Study of History and Memory Collection (oral history recordings and transcripts) 
•    Cook Music Library (in particular the jazz material in special collections) 
•    Folklore Collection (print materials) 
•    Glenn A. Black Lab (Native American manuscript materials and artifacts) 
•    Lilly Library (Sheet Music, related manuscript and artifact collections) 
•    Mathers Museum (musical instrument collections connected to ATM recordings) 
•    University Archives (some faculty papers, Hoagy Carmichael, Folklore Institute Archive)

VI. Principal Sources of Supply and Major Selection


The primary source for print material is depositors who may have written a publication based on their ethnographic field work. The primary source for manuscript and media material is field researchers or collectors of commercial sound recordings. 

VII. Preservation

Criteria for Selection for Preservation

AV Materials

Nearly all time-based media formats are at risk for obsolescence or degradation of its carrier format and should be digitally preserved as soon as possible. Even vinyl LPs which are relatively safe from degradation in the short term, face an uncertain future from an obsolescence point of concern. Born-digital formats face the same risks of degradation and obsolescence, although of a different kind, and should likewise be moved to a preservation workflow as soon as possible. Most of ATM’s audiovisual holdings will be digitally preserved by 2020, with the exception of certain formats and new acquisitions. ATM staff actively pursue preservation strategies for all AV materials and select for preservation based on the degree of risk and curatorial decisions.

Paper and Book Materials

Paper and book materials will be chosen for preservation treatment based on their risk of degradation due to damage or the nature of their materials. Curatorial decisions will further prioritize certain holdings.

Photographic Materials

Photographic materials will be chosen for preservation based on condition and curatorial decisions. Since online access typically follows digital preservation, photographic materials will be chosen in part based on our ability to effectively process and curate those materials with staff and graduate assistant expertise in language or cultural areas.

High Priority Areas of the Collection for Preservation Review and Treatment

All audiovisual materials in ATM holdings are considered at high risk and are currently receiving preservation review and treatment in collaboration with MDPI. Photographic materials at ATM are generally in need of housing that meets best practices and will benefit from digitization that will improve access. Paper and book materials at ATM have been at low risk and low priority but a comprehensive review will begin once the bulk of high-risk media formats have been preserved.

VIII. Selection Criteria for ALF

All digitized media formats are planned for ALF storage. Paper and photographic materials that have been digitized or have a good finding aid are also candidates for ALF storage.

IX. Digital Projects

All time-based media holdings that have been digitized are being prepared for delivery in Media Collections Online (https://media.dlib.indiana.edu/), though use of these materials will be constrained in some cases by copyright, deposit agreements, cultural protocols, and ethical considerations. 

ATM holdings deemed worthy of curation will be prepared for special online exhibits in collaboration with Library Technologies staff. This includes not only time-based media but also photographic and manuscript materials. Previous ATM online collections include the Hoagy Carmichael collections, The EVIA Digital Archive Project, and the AHEYM Project.

X. Other Resources and Libraries

●    American Folklife Center (Library of Congress) 
●    UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive 
●    UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive 
●    Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (American Philosophical Society) 
●    University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archives 
●    Vienna Phonogramm-archiv 
●    Berliner Phonogramm Archiv (part of Ethnologisches Museum Berlin) 
●    British Library World and Traditional Music Collection  
●    National Library of Australia Oral History and Folklore Collection 
●    Center for Research in Ethnomusicology (CREM-CNRS). Musée de L’Homme 
●    Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies 
●    Harvard Archive of World Music 
●    Center for Ethnomusicology Archive at Columbia University 
●    Center for the Study of the Upper Midwest  
●    Wesleyan University World Music Archive 
●    Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA) 
●    Southern Folklife Collection of the UNC Wilson Library 
●    Middle Tennessee State Center for Popular Music 
●    Smithsonian National Anthropological Archives

XI. Consortia Agreements

Not Applicable.

ATM Website: https://libraries.indiana.edu/archives-traditional-music

Revised: 20180725