A Race Against Time: Preserving AV Media

A Race Against Time: Preserving AV Media
Source: CCAHA (Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts), Philadelphia

Many of the machine-dependent audiovisual collections held by our cultural institutions are in peril. Therefore, it is crucial to have knowledge about the life expectancy and unique needs of our legacy media in order to make good preservation decisions. From wax cylinders, 78s, motion picture film, magnetic wire, and magnetic audiotapes, to LPs & 45s, audiocassettes, videotapes, and videocassettes, each format has a critical point at which information will begin to be lost.

The challenge of long-term preservation for these formats is that they often require intervention, including cleaning and reformatting. To maximize the life of these materials, one must understand the nature of the media, causes of deterioration, storage and handling practices, and the various types of playback equipment.

In response to an increasing need, CCAHA traveled to 8 U.S. cities over the course of several years presenting the program entitled A Race Against Time: Preserving Our Audiovisual Media. This series of videos was developed based on the content from those programs.

This online tutorial was developed for curators, librarians, archivists, collections managers and other staff who are involved in managing machine-based media collections in cultural institutions. Viewers will learn basic principles and concepts for managing audiovisual collections and will be provided with information and strategies for preservation, contracting for reformatting, and finding funding opportunities.