Media Preservation (and Digitization)

This was an interesting announcement posted to the Archives & Archivists list. I’ve been interested in digitization and preservation (two separate things, though often conflated) of audio-visual materials for a couple of years now, though I haven’t had many opportunities to practice it.

Indiana University Bloomington announces the release of a detailed report entitled “Meeting the Challenge of Media Preservation: Strategies and Solutions.” This 128-page report is available for download at

“Meeting the Challenge” is the result of a year of research and planning by a campus-wide task force charged with addressing the problems identified in the earlier IU Bloomington media preservation survey report published in 2009. “Meeting the Challenge” explores a range of topics related to the preservation and conservation of audio, video, and film, including: guiding preservation principles, facility planning, prioritization, digitization methodologies, strategies for film, principles for access, technological infrastructure needs, and engagement with campus units and priorities. Although developed specifically for the Bloomington campus, the findings and analyses in “Meeting the Challenge” may be useful to universities and other organizations with media holdings.

While conversion into a digital format is a very good way to preserve the intellectual content of audio-visual material, and is thus a “preservation strategy,” I am still concerned about losing the artefactual value of the original items. This report addresses physical storage of film materials, acknowledging that preservation issues can be largely addressed here through appropriate storage, but for the majority of the media types addressed it considers only digitization. I understand why — digitization meets the preservation goal, in large part and also makes access easier for most users — but I’d still prefer an approach that includes both strategies for all materials.


I am an independent digital collections and library technology consultant in Austin, TX.

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