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October 7, 2009

Andy Lanset of WNYC Honored by NYART

We tweeted about it last week, but it would be remiss of us to not more fully congratulate Andy Lanset of WNYC Archives for being honored with the Award For Archival Achievement by New York Archivists Roundtable. (Kudos also to the winners of the other awards, Columbia Center for New Media Teaching & Learning and Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano.)

Andy has worked tirelessly to centralize, organize, preserve and make accessible over 80 years worth of broadcast materials in all manner of formats. His efforts have reformatted and digitized a collection that spans almost the entire history of radio and that has become a valuable living resource for WYNC and other users. WNYC  listeners  (and listeners of stations which broadcast WNYC programs) are  reminded of Andy’s contributions and the significance of WNYC’s audio archives on a regular basis. Almost no day goes by where Andy Lanset isn’t thanked and credited on air for making the amazing content held in the WNYC archives accessible for incorporation into current programs.

Andy got his start as a volunteer and then staff reporter at WBAI radio, and in the mid-80s he began freelancing with NPR as well. His work as reporter and story producer led to a greater and greater interest in field recordings and the use of archival materials in documentary pieces. This led to an increasing focus on recording, collecting and preservation work. Through his own initiative and continued pestering regarding the great importance of their collection, Andy essentially created an Archives Department and Archivist position at WNYC in 2000, which quickly grew and has become a model archive. He continues to work closely with the NYC Municipal Archives and their WNYC holdings which make up a significant portion of the older WNYC collection.

Andy’s well deserved honor reminds us of the multi-faceted aspects of being an archivist. It’s easy to get caught up in or bogged down by the technical ins-and-outs of archiving: storage, handling, arrangement, metadata (oh my!)… However, caring for a collection also benefits from a passionate advocacy for its contents. How we express our love for the content and the media.  The stories we tell about the work we do. The ability to place materials in a historical and/or artistic context that all levels of users can understand. Getting across just a little bit of the enthusiasm and joy we feel about our collections and their importance can be a powerful tool for increasing support, funding, and access.

We’re not saving the world, but we’re preserving a little piece of it. Let’s hear it for Andy for doing his part to keep the tape rolling.

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