A Year in the Life of Audiovisual/Media Preservation in Illinois: Patrick Brown's Story of His Year

Audiovisual Materials at Southern Illinois University Carbondale Case Study, Patrick Brown

Patrick Brown, Preservation Librarian at Southern Illinois University Carbondale

A Year in the Life of Audiovisual/Media Preservation in Illinois: Grant Writing

James “Joe” Feigl III, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign graduate student and Melanie R. Schoenborn, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville​

Grant writing for audiovisual preservation starts with the basics: learning who has funding available and how that money can be used.  In the world of philanthropy the value of a library preservation project is based on the service it will provide and who will benefit from that service.  Grants will vary in their focus, with many current grants funding diversity, sustainability, LBGT, and digitization projects.  The goal is to use the information from an audiovisual collection analysis to develop a grant proposal that fits in with the philanthropy world’s current interests.  Below is an up-to-date annotated bibliography of materials about grant writing and also a list of currently available grant websites with examples of funded projects, the information on currently open grants, and future funding available for the preservation of library materials.

A Year in the Life of Audiovisual/Media Preservation in Illinois: Still Photographs and Photographic Formats

Jenny Dunbar, Archivist, College of DuPage​

Photographs were not always well regarded as historical documents. In the early stages of the development of archives, many archivists did not consider photographs as primary source material and relegated any visual material to a more subordinate position. Now, the value of photographs is appreciated, and they play a significant role in cultural heritage collections. It is imperative that these materials be preserved.

Like most audiovisual material, the preservation of still images is a complex one. Heliographs, daguerreotypes, cyanotypes, tintypes, albumen, silver gelatin prints, calotype paper negatives, glass plate negatives, nitrate, diacetate and polyester negatives, lantern slides, autochromes, film slides, digital photographs – the list goes on and on. The preservation of this multitude of formats is a daunting task that presents significant concerns, necessitating a variety of storage conditions and techniques. Additionally, photographic collections are usually heavily used, a factor that increases their susceptibility to damage.

A Year in the Life of Audiovisual/Media Preservation in Illinois: Audio

Greg MacAyeal, Northwestern University

For those of us gifted with the ability to hear, it’s hard to imagine a world without sound. Meaning is carried in the listening of our loved ones voices, the music we consume, and in all the other sounds we are surrounded with every day.  Recorded audio is the mechanical or digital capture of meaning – the rich experience of humanity. As stated by Rob Bamberger and Sam Brylawski in the introduction to The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age (Library of Congress, 2010): “Recorded sound is more than music and entertainment; it encompasses the sounds of the streets, of nature, and of the vanished folk heritage of indigenous and transplanted cultures, as well as of important national events and precious moments in our own personal lives.” It’s easy to understand the impact of audio. Reading Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous address on the Lincoln Memorial steps is inspiring indeed, but hearing the speech is altogether unforgettable. Everyone deserves the chance to hear “I Have a Dream”.

Library collections both large and small are likely to have some captured audio whether it’s in the form of a CD, a cassette tape or one of the many other formats. It’s not uncommon to find digital audio tape (DAT), open reel tape, LP phonodiscs, and 78 RPM phonodiscs. Special libraries and archives additionally own wire recordings, microcassettes, and Dictaphone belts and tapes. Of course, in 2016 most captured audio is in a digital format, of which there are many versions and kinds. Simply meeting the need of ensuring the longevity of audio collections is a large challenge, and one complete with a time sensitive deadline. If the format itself is not degrading, the playback equipment is hard to find and repair. For born digital collections, we have been slow to realize the need for a reformatting plan. With the estimated 46 million sound recordings at risk[1], action is needed now.

A Year in the Life of Audiovisual/Media Preservation in Illinois: Film Identification, Film Condition and Film Preservation

​Film–whether motion picture film, cut sheet film, microfilm, (either microform or microfiche), and amateur film – is generally at great risk in most collections. These four kinds of film come in three major materials: nitrate, acetate and polyester. Of these three, most attention will be paid to acetate because it is fragile and common. In contrast, the earliest of these materials, nitrate, while fragile and flammable, is relatively rare. The most recently developed material of film, polyester, though common, is a very stable material and requires less attention.

The four major steps to film preservation are locate the film, identify its material, assess its condition, and choose a preservation storage method based on best practices for condition of film and institutional feasibility. Unfortunately, none of these is easy.  

A Year in the Life of Audiovisual/Media Preservation in Illinois: Inventory of Video

Melanie Schoenborn, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Why does a library do a video inventory? Should you do a sampling or a complete inventory? Reinvent the process or use tried and true methods? What, where, and how are the policies and procedures for doing an inventory? The answers to these questions reveal that an inventory allows the collection to be analyzed and the quality of this part of your library to be validated.

A Year in the Life of Audiovisual/Media Preservation in Illinois: An Introduction

Miriam Centeno, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Have you ever had the experience of having a retired professor walk in to your library with an 8 mm film reel and not having the equipment to play it? Or has a donation come in for your archives with VHS tapes that are all covered in mold? How often do you worry about the state of your media collection? Have you ever tried to plan for its preservation?