As part of Preservation Week, we're highlighting the Dartmouth Library programs that can help you preserve your professional, personal, family, and community collections.
Today, we’ll hear from Media Collections and Preservation Librarian Noah Skogerboe about how the library can help you preserve your audio-visual collections.
Describe your role in the Library.
As a member of the Jones Media Center team, I provide access to our media and equipment collections and assist students, faculty and staff with media projects. I also work on audio-visual preservation projects, both for library collections and items belonging to students, staff, faculty and the local community.
What types of media can you preserve?
Much of what I handle are “obsolete” formats: things that do not have readily available playback mechanisms. For instance, we have playback equipment for VHS, Beta, Umatic video, Hi8 video, DVCAM, MiniDV, laserdisc, 8mm film, Super8 film, 16mm film, DAT tapes, various sizes of analog magnetic tape…the list goes on and on!
Can you describe the connection between "preserving" and "migrating" media?
Older video and audio formats are decaying so rapidly that all of their recorded information will soon be lost if we do not convert it to another more stable medium. The practice of transferring something to another more stable format is called “migration”, and its something that preservationists have been doing for a long time. For instance, some of the oldest audio recordings were made on wax cylinders. These recordings are so fragile that every playback causes some damage and the sound quality gets worse and worse. Wax cylinders were migrated onto high quality reel-to-reel magnetic audio tape in the 1970s in order to preserve the content for future listeners. Now those reel-to-reel tapes are in a similar condition of fragility, and we are migrating content onto high quality digital files. So, preservation and migration go hand in hand. When you migrate media for preservation you always use the best quality formats available.
So, once I have converted my old media to a digital file has it been preserved?
Migration to a high quality digital file is only the first step in the preservation process- now you have something new to preserve. Digital files must be carefully managed over time. Storing multiple copies of your media file in different locations- such as on an external hard drive and “in the cloud”- is one important way to ensure your media’s survival into the future.
What preservation services do you offer to the Dartmouth community?
If a researcher needs access to something in the Library’s collection that is in an old media format, I will convert the item into a digital format. I can then provide digital access to the content for the researcher.
Jones Media staff can help empower you to migrate your own older media to digital files. We have two editing suites that have all the equipment necessary to digitize audio and video cassette formats, as well as vinyl records. We are available to provide instructions and assistance throughout the migration process.
The Library also offers digitization services for a fee, but because resources are limited, we prioritize efforts that support student and faculty scholarship.
I am also happy to consult and advise on best practices for preservation of media in any format.
Who can access these services?
Our media preservation services are available to anyone who comes through the doors of the Jones Media Center. Happily, all members of the Dartmouth community, including students, staff, faculty and alumni are welcome to avail themselves of all that we have to offer.
How do I get started?
Come and see us at the Jones Media Center, visit our web page to learn more about the equipment and services that we have to offer, or email us at email@example.com or me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!