This week the Library of Congress announced the addition of fifty sound recordings to the National Recording Registry -- including "Nevermind," "Pet Sounds," and "Fear of a Black Planet", as well as "Girl from Ipanema" and a recording of Neil Armstrong on the moon. This registry was just started back in 2000, and the plan is that all the titles named to the registry will get state of the art archival preservation to be saved forever and ever and ever. If you can think of a recording that you think should be preserved forever and ever, you can even let the LOC know about it.
There is also a national film registry, which has been around since 1989, that does the same thing for film. You can see their 2004 list, and the complete list.
It may seem kind of arbitrary to pick X number of films or recordings a year for special preservation, but I kind of like the idea. Lists like this get people talking about film and music and archives and what is important and what isn't, and I think that's a good thing. Plus I love lists, and I think their choices are for the most part intriguing and well-considered.