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Original audio tape box from Alan Lomax's 1962 Caribbean fieldtrip (St. Patrick's, Grenada).

"Instant communications systems and recording devices," wrote Alan Lomax in 1985, "make it possible for oral traditions to reach their audience, to establish libraries and museums, and to preserve and record...songs, tales, and dramas directly in sound and vision without printing them in another medium."

In her keynote address to the Folk Heritage Collections in Crisis Symposium at the Library of Congress in 2000, Elizabeth Cohen reiterated these words in terms of the problems facing folklore archivists, challenging them to rethink the concept of preservation. "Distribution is the key to preserving audio folklore collections in the twenty-first century," she remarked. "In fact, distribution is preservation." ACE began preserving and cataloging Alan Lomax's original sound and video recordings and documentary photographs in 1997. Today we can share these collections through an ever-growing range of platforms and partners.

With digital media, a vast array of world heritage materials can be democratically offered to scholars, artists, and the general public, and fed back to local communities at relatively little expense.

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