Thursday, July 09, 2015

A glimpse behind the Library of Congress's film preservation vaults

You may be familiar with the National Film Registry, the Library of Congress group that annually selects significant American films to maintain in perpetuity. That's only a fraction of the over one million video recordings held by the Library of Congress, but all undergo a rigorous preservation process. For the first time that we've seen, WIRED was granted an inside look at the Library of Congress's preservation center in Virginia to show what the nation's film archive looks like. Turns out it's crowded – way more than desirable.

This profile of the Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation is packed with interesting peeks behind the scenes, featuring everything from political process of curating their collection to the prison-like storage facilities. But the most fascinating detail comes from curator Rob Stone, who admits that the Packard Campus receives more items than they can handle and sadly reject a significant portion of them. WIRED writer Bryan Gardiner describes the complex in terms usually reserved for hoarders, but such is the nature of any archive flooded with rarities.

We only infrequently deal with film preservation in Media Services, so it's exciting to see the process involved in this whole other world of media in libraries. The Library of Congress is doing excellent, important work, but we'll take the AU Library over a "nuclear bunker" any day.

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