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AV Preservation Census

We are pleased to announce that the Cornell AudioVisual Preservation team is launching a campus-wide census which will gather important data regarding our ‘at-risk’ AV formats. We will assess condition, format stability, uniqueness, and scholarly value. This is an important first step in developing a more comprehensive preservation strategy. This pilot initiative is being jointly funded by Cornell University Library and CIT.

The challenges associated with audio-visual (AV) media preservation are significant: important scholarly material is at risk due to physical media degradation; metadata loss; player or format obsolescence; and rights issues. In addition to issues with legacy materials, there is mounting pressure on newly generated AV content, as scholars are now creating large-scale AV collections associated with their research projects. With new government regulations requiring data management plans for all grant-funded initiatives, it is imperative we begin to address the long and short-term needs to preserve and provide access to important audio-visual collections.

In many cases, we may not even be aware of high-value content on campus, as it lives outside of the normal avenues for collection development and maintenance (such as the Library). Instead such material is embedded in departments, in shoe boxes under desks, or as digital files living on isolated desktops. Even within the Library system there are collections that are not sufficiently described or preserved. Hence we are undertaking the census work as a first step to get a handle on the scope of the problem.

Our initial effort will be in the form of a web-survey, with scheduled follow-up site visits from representatives from our team. We hope to have wide-spread input from key stakeholders across campus, and encourage you to share this with your colleagues. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at For more information about our group and charge, go to:


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