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Library Preservation: Media Preservation

Information about preservation of library collections in NYU's global locations, institute libraries, and departmental libraries, as well as information for the general library community.

Video at Risk: Strategies for Preserving Commercial Video Collections in Research Libraries, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

For research library collections across the continent, physical degradation of media housing valuable, unique, and out-of-print video material looms imminent. Across the board, there is a pressing need to reframe principles and practices in situations where risk is defined by scarcity, and reformatting by legal and practical processes is not yet illuminated by common or best practices.

This Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded collaborative study brought together New York University's Division of Libraries with the Moving Image Archiving & Preservation program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and the circulating media collections of the University of California, Berkeley and Loyola University New Orleans to collaboratively address these challenges. 

The Video At Risk team developed a set of clear, easy-to-use guidelines with regards to Section 108(c) of the United States Copyright Act, and is pleased to make them available to the broader library and archive community. 

Digitizing Video for Long-term Preservation: An RFP Guide and Template

Working in collaboration with its academic partners and technical advisors, New York University's Division of Libraries is pleased to announce the release of a publication. Digitizing Video for Long-term Preservation: An RFP Guide and Template is intended to take an institution step-by-step through the process of drafting a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the transfer of analog video -- specifically VHS -- to digital carriers for preservation. This template can be used by libraries, archives, and other cultural heritage institutions and submitted to qualified transfer vendors. 

Visual & Playback Inspection Ratings System: ViPIRS

In 2006, the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation & Conservation Department embarked upon a three-year project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to 1) develop a rationale for and strategic approach to operational library preservation services for moving image and audio materials and 2) devise methodologies for assessing the condition of archival magnetic media based on visual and playback inspection in order to prioritize the relative need and appropriate pathways toward preservation. Results from this methodology aim to determine whether visual inspection alone is adequate to collect accurate data for video and audio, or whether playback inspection is necessary for informed preservation decision-making. In this latter project, we also are exploring the use of random sampling as a methodology for assessing archival audio/visual materials. A final goal of the latter project is to create a freely accessible database for the moving image and sound preservation community that will be structured to serve as a comprehensive archival audio/visual inventory, assessment, and preservation prioritization tool.

NYU ViPIRS is the Microsoft Access database tool designed to assist in the survey and preservation planning of audiovisual collections as part of Developing Principles and Methodologies for Moving Image and Audio Preservation in Research Libraries. ViPIRS is designed with a wide range of users in mind: from audiovisual novices to experts; from small institutions to large.

ViPIRS has been developed for magnetic media, which includes modules for videotape, audiocassettes, and 1/4" reel-to-reel. Each module posits a series of inspection points based on ISO 18933-2006 and AES 49-2005 handling and inspection standards. Each inspection point is numerically weighted in regards to its potential relation to or effect on the condition of the item, the item's ability to be played back, and the ease or difficulty of conserving/preserving/reformatting the item. The accumulated score at the end of the inspection generates a numerical rating that informs the user on what steps need next be taken in the preservation process.

A secondary component to the tool is a playback inspection. If through visual inspection the item is rated safe enough to run through a deck, a playback sample (one minute at the beginning of content and one minute in the middle of content) is reviewed for signs of audio or visual signal loss and transport errors possibly related to degradation or cassette damage. A playback rating is calculated which, again, points to potential issues or pathways in the preservation process. If both visual and playback components are used, an overall rating can be calculated from the combined scores.

Besides the assignation of a ratings at the item-level, ViPIRS also collects the metadata necessary for the planning and pricing of preservation efforts. As an assessment tool, ViPIRS maintains a flexibility to be modified to the preservation policies and capabilities of the individual institution, and also to be used at any number of stages -- from acquisition to ingest to processing.