About Media Preservation at UIUC
The Media Preservation Program at the University Library is a new undertaking that seeks to
expand the Preservation Unit’s traditional book and paper focus to include audiovisual material in
a variety of formats. Sound recordings, motion picture film, and video tape formats are found
throughout the holdings of the University Library and the University Archives. These valuable
research materials are often at high risk of loss due to inherent instability of the recording
media and obsolescence of the playback technologies.
The goal of the Media Preservation Program is to locate and assess the condition of these
materials in order to prioritize them for preservation action. Once the priorities have been
established, action can be taken to improve storage environments, clean and re-house original
recordings, and digitize recordings for improved access and long-term protection of the originals,
among other options.
Although the primary focus of the Media Preservation Program is the development of a strategy
for audiovisual recordings on obsolete and/or deteriorating media, the care and handling of more
modern formats is also a priority. Working together with collection curators throughout the library
system, the Media Preservation Coordinator will develop policies to protect and prolong the useful
lives of audiovisual items from the oldest technologies to the newest. Outreach and education
initiatives will also be a priority as the program becomes more established.
For more information about the services offered by the Media Preservation Program please refer
From February 2011 to March 2013, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Media
Preservation Unit, in collaboration with the Center for Multimedia Excellence (CME) conducted a
two-phased Media Census to determine the extent of audiovisual holdings across the campus. The
study identified 408,492 physical audiovisual assets in 101 campus units, the majority of which
represent obsolete or obsolescent “legacy” formats being stored in conditions detrimental to their
long-term usability. As a result, this report recommends prioritizing campus-wide planning for a
sustainable infrastructure for the efficient, cost-effective preservation of valued media content.
The final report, along with related data sets, can be found
The work of the Media Preservation Coordinator is independent of the
AvSAP Project currently being
undertaken by the Conservation Unit, but the two efforts complement each other and allow for a
productive interchange of ideas among the associated staff members.
Josh Harris, Media Preservation Coordinator