CLIRing Up Video Preservation

As Julia mentioned in the last post, I recently teamed up with two of XFR Collective’s favorite partners — WITNESS’ Yvonne Ng and La Mama’s Rachel Mattson — to host a workshop at the Council for Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Unconference and Symposium.  The session was titled “Alt-Archives: Community Based Video Collections,” and the goal was to generate discussion and try to brainstorm some solutions for small organizations trying to figure out how to preserve material in really complex formats and make them available.  In an archival community where the conversations and tool development often tend to be driven by the needs of large institutions, we were really hoping to focus some attention on the specific (and scary) challenges that community groups are facing in trying to preserve their video heritage — issues like the myriad rights problems that go along with video, the expense of preservation reformatting and digital maintenance, and the lack of knowledge about video preservation in many institutions.

We had a fantastic medley of participants, including archivists from WGBH, the Dance Heritage Coalition, Illinois Public Media, universities such as Temple and Dartmouth, and many more.  At XFR Collective, we’re trying to offer one kind of solution, but we’re a small organization and our footprint is pretty limited.  Speaking personally, it was really encouraging to be in a room with twenty other people who were all trying to work towards the same kind of support and answers that we were.  While we didn’t revolutionize the world of archiving overnight, we did have a great discussion and collected a variety of really good resources, which you can follow along with in our session notes, available here.  Jack Brighton from WILL-TV at Illinois Public Media will have a more detailed blog post coming out soon, summarizing our discussion as well as some of the next steps that we hope to see come out of it.  I’ll make sure to link you all to that as soon as it’s available.

However, one of the things we at XFR Collective know that we do to support community video preservation is continuing to provide as much education as we can, so I’ll end this blog post by throwing up a link to a video preservation training workshop that I held a few weeks ago at Simmons College with the brilliant Casey Davis, the Project Manager for WGBH’s American Archive (a community video project of really astounding proportions, linking community television stations together from all across the country.)  The workshop was aimed at an audience of LIS students, but we hope the information presented will be useful for anyone who’s trying to figure out how to get a handle on their video collections.

We’ve got some more exciting news at XFR Collective that we hope to be able to share shortly, but in the meantime, check out the notes, think deep thoughts about the problems of community video preservation, and, if you watch the video, please enjoy the moment when I completely blank on the word ‘polyester’.  What’s video made of again?  Rust soup and magic or something, I guess.

– Rebecca