About us

The Virtual National Phonotheque of the Czech republic aims to fill a gap in understanding our national cultural heritage. Prior to the start of this project there was no comprehensive source of information on sound heritage – there was no discography listing all relevant recordings (those published on the territory of Czech Republic, or published abroad but relevant to the national cultural heritage) as well as no comprehensive catalogue of sound documents held by institutions on Czech territory. One of the largest collection, more than 40000 recordings held by the National Museum has not been catalogued yet while two other large collections (archives of Supraphon and Czech Radio) were only catalogued in proprietary databases not available online. Thanks to our project, metadata from a number of memory institutions as well as Supraphon’s archive has been published through a common portal while talks are being held with more institutions including the Czech Radio to join the project. Thanks to the portal, we are now able to leverage other institutions to catalog their collections of old recordings and provide their metadata records to the portal.


To respond to new digitisation standards proposed by the National Library of the Czech Republic MZK prepared an extension of the digitisation metadata standards to cover digitized sound. MZK also wrote a gramophone record digitisation recommendation describing the whole sound digitisation workflow from selection to access and long term preservation, which has been certified by the Ministry of Culture earlier this year.

Access to Copyrighted Recordings

Czech copyright law allows libraries to digitize sound documents under the condition that the library in question has a physical copy of a given recording and that the library does not allow the user to download a copy of the recording and gives its users only on-site access to the recording. To conform with this requirement, MZK has developed a software extension to Kramerius open source digital library system to support access to audio documents.

Kramerius Digital Library Software

Kramerius is a free and open source standards-based digital library system based on Fedora Repository digital library engine. Kramerius is being developed and used by Czech libraries to give access to their digitized collections and is scalable to tens of millions of documents. It indexes ALTO XML full texts as well as MODS metadata in Apache Solr based full text search engine. Kramerius utilizes an IIPImage image server to serve image tiles extracted on-the-fly from jpeg2000 files and AudioProxy to provide stored sound recordings in a number of formats. Through its API it can be accessed from mobile applications, first of them being currently developed in-house by MZK for Android devices. This open source app will be freely available to access free content in any of the Kramerius digital libraries but it will also be used to give access to copyrighted content when installed on enabled tablets within the library.

The Portal Software

The Virtual National Phonotheque Portal is based on VuFind open source library resource portal software. VuFind is developed and maintained by Villanova University's Falvey Memorial Library with contributors from many other institutions including MZK. VuFind utilizes Apache Solr to provide search functionality with faceted results, “More Like This” suggestions, display of deduplicated results and much more. Individual institutions can provide their metadata records via OAI-PMH or through metadata exports in MARC21 (preferred) or other formats. To manage the imported datasets and deduplicate the records MZK uses Record Manager, VuFind add-on developed by the National Library of Finland.


To gather comprehensive information about sound recording collections in the Czech and Slovak republics MZK went into co-operation with the Masaryk University and initiated a preliminary survey of memory institutions and their collections. Based on the survey results institutions with collections of audio documents will be queried in more detail. Hopefully, many of them will be willing to provide their metadata records to the Phonotheque.


Since 2012 the authors of this poster were able to talk to and consult with representatives of many institutions, professionals and enthusiasts in the field of old sound recordings – sound engineers, collectors, a gramophone record manufacture specialists and curators both local and abroad. Later this year, a workshop for the key people in this field has been planned to discuss future priorities and possibly to prepare projects that would help establish the Phonotheque as one of the key resources on our audio heritage.