All posts by vallier

I work at the Univ. of Washington in Seattle, where I collect and preserve audio, video and moving image film. I also teach about Seattle music, archives, ethnomusicology and remix. Before coming to UW in I was an archivist at UCLA where I focused on community partnerships and making unique field recordings audible. Posts my own.

Remix as Resistance & Discourse

This quarter I’m teaching a class at the University of Washington called Remix as Resistance & Discourse (Honor211A). A remix itself, the is class takes one part remix studies, one part culture jamming, and… blend. We are already into the 4th week (the quarter system is an unrelenting brutality on education) and are attempting to tackle copyright today. I’m attaching a draft of the syllabus here in case you want to check it out: w2018-honors211a-remixresist Questions, suggestions and comments welcome!


Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse: CBS Radio Reporting & Newsreel

77 years ago today, after fewer than 5 months of use, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge dramatically collapsed into Puget Sound. At the time of its construction (and its destruction), the bridge was the third-longest suspension bridge in the world in terms of main span length, behind the Golden Gate Bridge and the George Washington Bridge.

University of Washington Libraries is home to a trove of documents, films, and recordings that document the construction, collapse, and post-destruction investigation of the bridge.

The following CBS Radio News broadcast is from our Milo Ryan Phonoarchive. Three hours after the fall of the bridge on November 7, 1940, Carroll Foster and KIRO newsmen report from the scene and from a plane above the site. Included are interviews of Bob Owens (Washington Department of Highways), Charles E. Andrew (consulting engineer for the Washington State Toll Bridge Authority), and US Senator Homer T. Bone. Carroll Foster describes the scene from the vantage of a United Airlines plane, reporting via KIRO’s Mobile Shortwave Transmitter. Firsthand accounts describe a man (later identified as UW Prof. Farquharson) crawling from his car immediately before the collapse and the death of a dog that was trapped in one of the cars (later identified as Prof. Farquharson’s dog).

The following film documents the construction of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, its opening to traffic on July 1, 1940, its collapse on November 7, 1940, and footage of testing on a scale model of the bridge. The bridge experienced oscillations both while under construction and after opening, and in May of 1940 the Washington Toll Bridge Authority hired Professor Farquharson to make wind-tunnel tests and recommend solutions in order to reduce the oscillations of the bridge. The recommendations were delivered days before the collapse, and Prof. Farquharson was on site at the East Tower taking photographs and motion pictures on the day of the collapse.

For more information about these and other Tacoma Narrows Bridge materials at the UW Libraries, please contact us.

Milo Ryan Phonoarchive: March 2017 Update

 A soggy Pacific Northwest update on the CBS Radio/Milo Ryan Phonoarchive digitization project…

  • We are nearly 2/3 of the way through digitizing the archive’s 1500 reels (audio nerds, check out our workflow here).
  • Milo Ryan’s discographic book, “History in Sound” (part 1), is now available as a free download here.
  • While the Phonoarchive primarily documents World War II, other 20th century events are included, such as this coverage of the Watts Rebellion, the Vietnam War, etc.
  • An EAD finding aid for the collection is in the works.
  • We are still working on a solution for online access to the entire collection, perhaps via Internet Archive. In the meantime, if you find yourself in Seattle, you can listen to what we have digitized in UW’s Suzzallo-Allen Library. Let us know you are coming so we can try to have the material you are researching ready to roll:

A big THANK YOU to all of the amazing students and staff who have worked/are working on this, as well as the folks at NARA who have transferred missing reels for us! 

A Post-Election View From DC Ethnomusicology

I’m at the Library of Congress, deep within the serpentine recesses of the mighty James Madison Building. The occasion? “Sounds: Public Second Ethnomusicology (SEM) in the 21st Century,” a daylong Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) pre-conference at the American Folklife Center. The event consists of a series of talks and conversations around people doing ethnomusicology outside of the traditional professorial route. Think public sector folklorists, non-profits arts directors, musical instrument curators, museologists, performers, archivists—even medical doctors and cemetery directors—reflecting on their experiences both inside, outside, and next to the discipline.

For those of you not familiar with ethnomusicology, it can be defined as the study of musics in cultures (or the study of cultures in musics), more or less. It’s grounded in an egalitarian understanding of all peoples, one that embraces and works to promote diversity, be it sonic, expressive, cultural, ritualistic, symbolic, functional, and etc.

The ethnomusicologists here are unflagging in their commitment to these values. Today, however, there is a somber sense of foreboding among the group. Being in DC on the day after the election, and in a field where difference is lauded, we cannot avoid being reminded of what transpired. As SEM President Anne Rasmussen noted, the SEM conference will be opened tomorrow by a female Quranic reciter, exactly the kind of folk who have been targeted in the recent campaign. What’s more, many of the people here today are employed either directly, or indirectly (grants), by the federal govt. In short, our work appears to be at odds with a zeitgeist bent on erecting walls and closing agencies.

However, nihilism is never the answer. Isn’t it time to re-double our efforts to do our work, to promote/interpret/preserve/provide access to everybody’s music? Isn’t it time to reach out to those who are celebrating today? What are the roots of their musics? What values are communicated through their sounds? And how different are they really from our own?


Overall, in the world of libraries, Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) and Demand Driven Acquisition (DDA) appear to be used synonymously (see As noted in this presentation, “Demand Driven Acquisition” (DDA) [is] [G]enerally understood to be a synonym of PDA.” However, as last week’s presenters aptly pointed out, the authors of “Streaming Video in Academic Libraries” noted the following: “Libraries can also choose from a couple of other models: patron-driven acquisition (PDA) and demand-driven acquisition (DDA). In both models, libraries choose the packages to add to their collections. In the PDA model, a lease or purchase of a film is triggered after a certain number of user views, usually four or five. PDA funds are paid up front with a flexible deposit amount—very helpful for smaller library budgets. Meanwhile, the DDA model allows librarians to choose leases or purchases after examining user viewing data; it generally requires a library to agree to a higher minimum deposit in order to participate.”

So what’s up? As far as I can tell, DDA *is* generally understood to be a synonym of PDA, and vice versa. However, some vendors have made distinctions between the two. EBSCO has both DDA and a PDA services, both of which they notes as being “similar” to one another: “GOBI customers can access EBSCO titles through Demand-Driven Acquisitions (DDA), allowing libraries to pre-select titles that are only purchased when patron usage determines need” ( Therefore, with DDA it sounds like libraries have have the ability to “pre-select” content that patrons can then choose from. EBSCO’s PDA is more automated, allowing the patron to select from a wider breadth of material for automatic purchase: This distinction is murky, and EBSCO’s websites don’t help with clarifying the two, though it seems that DDA gives the librarian more of an opportunity to narrow down the content for the patron’s automated purchases.

I believe the definition of DDA used by the Streaming Video authors are more inline with what is commonly understand as “Usage Driven Acquisitions” (UDA) or “Evidence Based Acquisitions” (EBA): “It differs in requiring an upfront monetary commitment or deposit. This gives the library access to a defined collection of content. At the end of the agreed upon time period, usage stats of the accessible content is provided to the library. The library then decides which titles to own. The list prices of titles chosen generally total to the amount of initial commitment/deposit. ‘Evidence Based Acquisitions,’ another new label within PDA/DDA models. Seems most similar to Usage-Driven Acquisition” (

Confused? Good! I think it’s meant to be that way (I believe vendors think of these terms less as standardized mechanisms for delivering content, and more as marketing inroads that may—or may not—actually be patron, user, demand or evidence driven). Just take this away:

  • PDA/DDA puts selection power in the hands of the patron, while EDA/UDA gives librarians data about use from they can make selection decisions.

Now for the big question: will the PDA/DDA model replace librarians?



Making parts of a collection “Library Use Only,” or LUO as it’s commonly referred to in the acronym and initialism saturated field of Library and Information Science (LIS!), is an activity that may put access-oriented librarians and preservation-minded archivists at odds. In grossly generalized and over-simplified terms, the former prefer items be available for check out and circulation. The latter prefer items to be preserved for long-term, and less convenient use.

I’m in the process of writing up LUO criteria for the audio/video/film collections at UW Seattle. Here are the criteria I’m thinking of so far in terms of an item qualifying for LUO status:

  • Uniqueness/Rarity: According toWorldCat, UW owns one of three or fewer available copies.
  • No Replacement: A commercially available replacement copy that is both reasonably priced and of acceptable quality is unavailable.

An additional criterion that perhaps regardless of the items unique/rarity or commercial available, should deem a particular media type as LUO:

  • Playback Obsolescence: The equipment required to playback the titles is no longer being manufactured.

I’m interested in hearing about other possible LUO criterion, so please let me know in the comments. And beyond the LUO status, I’m thinking that for analog media (e.g., VHS, audio cassettes) we should first create digital access copies before allowing users to access unique or rare LUO titles. Convenient? No. But should that be our primary mission?



“Sound-recording equipment John and Alan Lomax transported in the trunk of their car during their fieldwork expeditions” (from

For class tomorrow we are going to be covering a lot of ground: “Segregating Sounds (1910s – 20s) and Archival Acquisition/Fieldwork.” For the music related readings please consider the following:


  • Why does Armbruster characterize the 20s as a “paradoxical age”?
  • What is a “blue law”?
  • What was Local 76’s attitude towards jazz?
  • Why was Local 458 reconstituted into Local 493 in 1922?
  • What impact did the advent of cinema have on the local music scene?
  • Did women receive the same pay as men in Local 76?
  • What did the New York Times say about Cornish?

De Barros

  • According to De Barros, what was Seattle’s early “contradiction in the city’s psychology”?
  • What do you think would have happened had black musicians tried to join Local 76 in 1909?
  • What role do minstrel shows play in the development of jazz?
  • How would you characterize The Seattle Times’ turn of the century characterization of black entertainers?
  • When and where was Seattle’s first jazz performance?

And for the archive/fieldwork related portion of the readings, consider….


  • What are some of the ways in which sound and audiovisual archives acquire their collections?
  • What should be a person’s paramount responsibility when making a new recording for an archive?
  • What should we do with recordings that were made w/out the knowledge or permission of performers?

And we will be applying Bartis’ guide to an activity during the latter half of the class.

See you tomorrow!