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Best Practices and Guidelines for Conducting Oral Histories : Library Guidelines for Accepting Oral Histories

The Libraries partner with faculty and students to support the creation and sharing of oral history interviews.

Transferring Oral Histories

                    Image of a microphone.  Image by Maciej from Pixabay

 

The Libraries can partner with faculty and students to support the creation, sharing, and preservation of oral history interviews. These guidelines are for individuals or groups interested in having their oral history collections hosted and/or preserved by the Libraries. The Libraries' Best Practices and Guidelines for Conducting Oral Histories cover best practices for conducting oral histories, including the planning stage, interview stage, and post-interview stage. The guide also provides links to helpful resources on oral histories. We encourage you to speak with us at the beginning of your project so that we can ensure that the project aligns with our collection and digital preservation policies and answer any questions about the process.
Please email libsys@binghamton.edu for questions about oral histories.

The Libraries require the following to accept the transfer of oral histories:

Consent forms

Consent forms document the interviewee's willingness to participate in the project.  Consent forms also permit the Libraries to publish the interviews online, transcribe them, and create copies for preservation. A consent form includes the interviewee's name, signature, date, and a clear statement of permission to archive the interview and make it available to the public in perpetuity. The Libraries' consent form may be used, or its language borrowed to create your project's own consent form. The Libraries require copies of consent forms (print or digital) to archive interviews and make them accessible.

Copies of the audio files

We recommend using an application that records or can output audio to either WAV files or high-quality MP3 (256 kbps or higher). The Libraries require raw, unprocessed copies of the recordings, preferably as .wav files. The names of the .wav files should follow this format: [interviewee last name][interviewee first name]_[date of interview as YYYYMMDD]. For example, smithjane_20160413.wav

Please follow the advice in the Best Practices and Guidelines for Conducting Oral Histories to announce interview data at the beginning of each recording in case the file names become corrupted. Edited short clips created from the interviews can also be preserved by the Libraries.

Project Description 

The Libraries require a narrative description of the project, including:

  • Name of departments /schools
  • Name(s) of project managers
  • Description of project: purpose, scope
  • Names of participants, and basic biographical information if available

Metadata 

Provide basic metadata (descriptive information) about each oral history. The metadata may be created and organized in a metadata template. This is an example of the type of metadata generally required for oral history projects. We encourage you to work with the Libraries to adapt this template for your specific project. The Libraries are also able to instruct on metadata best practices.

Transcription

A transcription of the audio recording. is necessary for accessibility. Transcriptions are also important because they enable researchers to more easily consult, reference, and browse the text. The Libraries have used Otter.ai and Rev to generate transcripts. Other transcriptions services may be available as well.