With the BPL audio lecture series in mind, I want to point out in this blog post how audio is an often overlooked form of documentation. This is true despite the fact that audio is now easy to capture. Furthermore listening to audio recordings allows us to consider what is being communicated in a way that other formats do not. We can analyze what is being said without the interruption of visual images that might take our attention to different aspects of what is being communicated. Listening to audio may force us to focus on cadence, pauses, tone, and other subtle clues about a person that we do not necessarily pull out in other media.
As an educator, I now try to balance the formats of the collections that I put together. When sharing groupings of materials with others, a collection in multiple formats helps round out a story. It should be a goal when creating collections of information to gather rich layers of media that tell overlapping stories.
For one, in a library setting, a collection in multiple formats can help learners who may be able to better decipher information in one format over another. Library collections in a wide variety of formats can support patrons and students by providing them with the tools with which they are comfortable for learning AND by giving them similar tools in forms they find less desirable. For example, a student who is uncomfortable reading on her own may gain confidence when they read a book while an audio of the text is playing along.
An archival collection in multiple formats gives people a number of ways to identify with a subject. A collection of photographs, local documents, and audio / visual recordings from a community give us a well-rounded view of that community. We can see the thoughtfully recorded words of a people, hear their voices, see their mannerisms. We get a better understanding of our ancestors and peers when we create and keep different formats of documentation.
Even in your own personal life and professional life, multiple formats can assist you with your personal brand. When creating an online identity, an online portfolio of your work in several formats helps the person on the receiving end of the information get a better rounded perspective of you. [See my online "portfolio" as an example.]