Those 'Dusty' Archives
It's true, we do occasionally find valuable things in less than wholesome places like damp basements, forgotten crawl spaces and blistering hot attic corners. But I would venture a guess that 96% of the time we are neither digging up nor dusting off aural relics, like some prospecting Indiana Jones of the library desk set.
Believe it or not, a great many of our choicest bits of the past are cataloged (to one degree or another) and neatly arranged by format in a well-lit, temperature-humidity controlled room with compact moveable shelving. There is no dirt, no shovels, nor pick axes. There is a little dust, but there is a little dust just about everywhere. And there may be a faint scent of vinegar from degrading acetate tape or some stale bit of off-gassing from vintage lacquer discs.
By and large, it is our task to make these materials knowable and accessible, not to keep them hidden. (Reminder, Producers you can access the catalog). Still, (sigh) people love that image, a gritty romantic clichÃ© of discovery really: The crusading archivist in the jungle of his/her own collection wearing a tan fedora with white cotton gloves, carrying a pack of acid-free record sleeves in pursuit of sonic treasures to be rescued from oblivion. Okay, I will not disabuse you of the stereotype. Give me a musty, crumbling sepia-toned box of broadcast recordings and I will gladly plumb its depths.