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Indiana University’s Time-Based Media Digitization Project

On Tuesday, October 1, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie announced a comprehensive time-based media* digitization project during his State of the University address. According to President McRobbie, the goal of this initiative is to “digitize, preserve and make universally available by IU’s Bicentenary (consistent with copyright or other legal restrictions) all of the time-based media objects on all campuses of IU judged important by experts.” Key points concerning this project include the following:

  • funding to establish the initiative is in place from the offices of the President, Provost, and Vice President for Research
  • the project will be carried out in partnership with Memnon Archiving Services, a leading international media digitization company
  • digitization will take place over a five-year period leading up to the IU Bicentenary in fiscal year 2019-20
  • the larger initiative will be named the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative. Work on time-based media will be carried out in part by the new Indiana University Media Preservation and Access Center (IMPAC)

President McRobbie framed this effort within the context of the three fundamental missions of great universities, namely, the creation of knowledge, the dissemination of knowledge, and the preservation of knowledge. He then discussed the ways in which the Internet and digitization have fundamentally changed both the focus and methodology of the preservation mission. Finally, he charged IU with developing a University-wide strategy and master plan for digitization. The goal of this plan is to digitize all existing collections of lasting importance and to ensure preservation of new research at IU that is born digital.

President McRobbie also spoke to the specific, challenging problems of time-based media, stating:

“But nearly all of this vast amount of material is difficult to access. Much has been recorded in what are now obsolete formats for which few playback devices remain in existence. And as is tragically too often the case, some of this material is at risk of deterioration or is already deteriorating. So unless we take action now many of these precious objects—many potentially vital to scholarship and part of the heritage of IU—will be lost forever. This represents material accumulated at considerable cost over many years and now of even greater value.”

The full text of President McRobbie’s address may be found here


The section that addresses this project, titled Digitization and the Preservation of Knowledge, is reproduced on this blog in the previous post.

// Mike Casey

*The most common time-based media types are audio recordings, video recordings, and motion picture film.


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