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A Year in the Life of Audiovisual/Media Preservation in Illinois: Preservation Committee's Reflections on Our Year

Perhaps the most striking response to our work this year is how much we needed to learn and how challenging the field of AV preservation is crossing many mediums, using many different kinds of machines, and requiring so much specific technological know-how. We also had a sense as we examined these objects of their urgent preservation needs and how AV materials are often overlooked. This is especially true when we consider issues of shrinking budgets, staff, and the struggle professionals have balancing competing priorities. Conservation is often a middling priority, yet there was a sense that there are new AV materials arriving that should be immediately backed up digitally. This process is perhaps not so very difficult, but the backlog of AV materials can be a bit overwhelming while presenting a less than immediate need.

As the best-laid plans often go awry, the committee members themselves encountered many personal and professional challenges that affected the progress of the project. One lesson we learned is that if staff and funding are limited for an active preservation program, taking incremental steps will at least assist with long-term planning. Discreet activities such as taking an inventory, increasing your knowledge base with training and networking, or getting more acquainted with your facilities department and the building envelope can help you understand the needs of your collection.  Compiling the information from these smaller efforts is the best way to demonstrate up the chain of command the immediacy of the needs and to provide the fundamental information needed to apply for grants.

2015-2016 CARLI Preservation Committee

Patrick Brown, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Mary Burns, Northern Illinois University
Miriam Centeno, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Jenny Dunbar, College of DuPage
Gregory MacAyeal, Northwestern University
Beth McGowan, Northern Illinois University
Jamie Nelson, DePaul University
Melanie Schoenborn, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Anne Thomason, Lake Forest College

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