Budget cuts and uncertainty over finances coming in from the federal government have the CBC in the process of dismantling its CD and vinyl archives across the country.
According to a report from the Globe and Mail [via AUX], the move to minimize storage space has been handed down from CBC management to its archivists, and the plan should have the collections whittled down significantly by the end of March.
It's unclear exactly how the CBC will go about the downsizing, but thousands of records and CDs could be sold, donated or dumped via the cost-cutting measure. The news comes at a time where the public broadcaster is reportedly in the midst of figuring out an online music service. It has yet to be confirmed, but sources say we can expect a number of musical formats to be available for broadcast from a central website.
Some archivists have called the as-yet-unannounced plan short-sighted, as chances are pretty high that many albums that will be lost in the upcoming truncation will not make it into a digital database.
"We believe that they are jumping the gun quite a bit by doing this," said archivist John MacMillan, who has looked after CBC Vancouver's music library. "We understand that at some point the hard-copy collection would not be needed any more, and the usage of the CDs has gone down. But the content in this virtual music library -- as its known -- is still far below the needs of the users."
The Toronto archive will reportedly not be affected by cuts, while it's being pointed out that of the 650,000 CDs housed in bureaus across the country, only 140,000 are unique to one particular library. Everything else is already in Toronto.
"We're going to look at what content has historic value, what has a programming value to us," CBC spokesperson Chris Ball said, adding that new CDs will continue to be added to the archives. "The goal here is that we are digitizing that content in the virtual music library. What that's going to be able to do is give everybody across the country [in the CBC] desktop access to our entire music library."
With about two months to complete the project, archivists are apparently trying their best to preserve everything they can, but regretfully they seem to know the task may be too much to handle.
"It is a time-consuming process to go through, to make sure that we're not tossing something away that doesn't exist in a modern format," MacMillan said. "The thing about this that is most rankling to me is that, sure, we knew that this had to happen. But it is happening way too fast."