The term "access" refers to the ways a user discovers material, how the archive delivers that material, and the ways in which particular uses are specified by a deposit agreement or the nature of the material. For example, a user may use an online catalog to find a collection at the Archives of Traditional Music, visit our listening library to locate a specific recording to listen to, use the Variations system to deliver the item online, but be limited to listening to the item in the library because copyright restrictions prevent the ATM from making the recording available on the entire web. Each of these activities fall under the definition of what we term as "access."
Along with our commitment to long-term preservation, the ATM is committed to high levels of access. We provide listening copies for local and international researchers as part of our core set of services. ATM staff work hard to provide as much access as we can, and nearly all of our holdings are accessible by visiting our listening library. However, use can be restricted or at least slowed by several factors. Each field collection is accompanied by a deposit agreement that stipulates how a collection can be used. In most cases, educational and research use is freely available, but in some cases, the agreement stipulates that the depositor or the subjects' permission must be granted before it can be used. Some older collections were made without concern for cultural sensitivities or notions of ownership and so some collections are restricted for ethical reasons. In the case of commercial recordings, we are, of course, restricted by copyright law to making copies for onsite use only within our listening library or through the tight constraints of the Variations online reserve system. That said, the Archives of Traditional Music works hard to ensure that our recordings are as accessible as possible and to support the research endeavors of our patrons.