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.
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