Preservation and Conservation Organizations -  Profiles and Links

Archivists and Archiving

The media arts field has worked hard to participate in national and regional dialogues on preservation and to establish relationships with others involved with electronic media preservation. There are a number of different groups who are involved with preservation; the list below describes some of the key areas of work and organizations. For a more comprehensive list, see the Magnetic Media Preservation Sourcebook, available from Media Alliance. The Sourcebook also describes in greater detail the working groups, task forces and other entities within these groups that focus specifically on the preservation of magnetic media.

Association of Moving Image Archivists
The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) is a non-profit professional association established to advance the field of moving image archiving by fostering cooperation among individuals concerned with the collection, preservation, exhibition and use of moving image materials. Through committees and interest groups, AMIA develops and promotes standards in the field, especially in the areas of moving image preservation, cataloging, and access. AMIA holds an annual conference, conducts workshops to help train new moving image archivists, and periodically coordinates advanced technical symposia. AMIA publishes the quarterly AMIA Newsletter, and provides other publications and mailings of interest to the moving image archive field.

The Moving Image: Journal of the Association of Moving Image, a professional journal, provides an open forum for archivists, librarians, technical specialists, scholars and academics. The AMIA Newsletter serves as a news forum; Moving Images offers in-depth articles concerning historic and contemporary film, television, and video, new and emerging digital technologies, as well as paper and three-dimensional collections documenting the history of moving image media. AMIA also administers a listserv, AMIA-L (see Appendices). Web resources include detailed information about the scholarship programs, downloadable applications for the scholarship programs, and an extensive section of links - "Film and Video Resources on the Internet."

Society of American Archivists
The Society of American Archivists serves the educational and informational needs of its members and provides leadership to help ensure the identification, preservation, and use of the nation's historical record. SAA distributes more than 120 books and publications of specific interest to archivists, as well as publishing its own series of books, pamphlets, and manuals. In addition, SAA publishes several periodicals: The American Archivist, covering trends and issues in archival theory and practice and Archival Outlook (bimonthly). SAA Membership Directory and the SAA Directory of Archival Education in the United States and Canada. SAA has regional chapters and conferences which are an excellent way to network with their members. They are open to learning about independent media arts collections and efforts to preserve these collections, and are increasingly concerned with issues surrounding moving image and sound preservation.

Library Organizations

The American Library Association
ALA is the national organization of librarians. The Video Roundtable of the ALA is broad-based group bringing together ALA members who have an interest in and/or responsibility for video collections. The Roundtable provides a unified voice for video advocacy in the areas of legislation, professional guidelines for collections, and other issues specifically related to video and libraries. They also educate library professionals about the use of video, and provide a liaison between video vendors and the library sector. The Video Roundtable publishes Video Round Table News on a quarterly basis.

The ALCTS/PARS Photographic and Recording Media: Methods, Materials, and Standards Committee is charged with coordinating section activities related to the methods, materials, and standards employed in the preservation of photographic and recording media.

Council on Library and Information Services
CLIR is the result of the 1997 merger of the Commission on Preservation and Access and the Council on Library Resources. CLIR is a non-profit organization governed by an independent board, and its primary activities include identifying critical issues facing libraries and archives, convening individuals and organizations to engage and respond to these issues, and coordinating national and international programs in preservation and access, digital libraries, economics of information, and leadership development. CLIR maintains four current programs: the Commission on Preservation and Access, Digital Libraries, the Economics of Information, and Leadership. CLIR's Commission on Preservation and Access (CPA) is sponsored in part by libraries, archives, colleges, universities, publishers, and other allies concerned with preservation and access issues. One project of the Preservation Science Research Initiative, a program of CLIR, was the development of a joint report from the Commission and the National Media Laboratory on the long-term storage requirements for magnetic media. Magnetic Tape Storage and Handling: A Guide for Libraries and Archives, by John Van Bogart, also provides guidance on how to care for these media to maximize their life expectancies. The CLIR web site also includes abstracts and ordering information on an extensive list of publications, including the report above and the Image Permanence Institute report New Tools for Preservation: Assessing Long-Term Environmental Effects on Library and Archives Collections, by James M. Reilly, Douglas W. Nishimura and Edward Zinn.

Library of Congress
In 1997, the LOC published Television and Video Preservation 1997:  A Study of the Current State of American Television and Video Preservation. The report has two key objectives: to provide a factual foundation for the understanding of issues confronting the preservation of American television and video, and to recommend a national plan of action based upon a broad consensus of the archival community. Order information at the Library of Congress site. Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (M/B/RS) has responsibility for the acquisition, cataloging and preservation of the motion picture and television collections. The Division operates the Motion Picture and Television Reading Room to provide access and information services to an international community of film and television professionals, archivists, scholars and researchers. The LOC web site is organized into sections representing the research and reference services for Motion Picture and for Recorded Sound. In the "Collections Care and Conservation" section of the Motion Picture Reading Room  there is a link to a bibliography by Mark Roosa covering magnetic media preservation. A bibliography on audio preservation, and the article "Record and Tape Care in a Nutshell" are part of the Recorded Sound Reading Room section, along with information resources on cylinder recordings.

Research Library Group
RLG is devoted to improving access to information which supports research and learning. It is an alliance of universities, colleges, national libraries, archives and independent research collections.
The goal of RLG Working Group on Preserving Magnetic Media is to compile and present a set of practical guidelines to assist libraries and archives in preserving these collections. Objectives of the working group include:

  • organizing and analyzing the available research and knowledge on preservation and reformatting requirements of magnetic media;
  • developing documentation of relevant standards and best practices, including guidelines for storage, care and handling, reformatting, and transfer re-recording;
  • recommending steps RLG and its members can take to disseminate information that will result in the most effective and timely distribution of information;
  • developing model RFPs, including technical specifications, for reformatting or transfer re-recording of magnetic media formats;
  • investigating cost and quality (better environmental monitoring, etc.) benefits associated with establishing a shared storage facility for magnetic media.

In the 1997-98 grant cycle, the Research Libraries Group was funded by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to create and make available a single, comprehensive information source that includes the best practices and relevant technical standards for the preservation of magnetic media. The resulting manual will be available via the Internet on the RLG PRESERV web site. For information on working group membership, consult RGL PRESERV .

Conservators and Conservation Practice

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
AIC is the non-profit national membership organization of conservation professionals dedicated to preserving the art and historic artifacts of our cultural heritage for future generations. AIC holds an annual conference and has several publications including the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation; AIC News; Membership Directory; and books, pamphlets, and audiovisual materials on conservation subjects. The AIC web site includes sections "Selecting a Conservator" and "Caring for Your Home Videotape".

Electronic Special Interest Group of AIC
EMSIG was formed in 1997 to promote a better understanding of the preservation issues relating to electronic media, enabling conservators can actively contribute to this area of conservation.

Conservation OnLine:  Resources for the Conservation Professional
CoOL is a project of the Preservation Department of Stanford University. CoOL has extensive online conservation and preservation information and encourages contributions from visitors. Conservation DistList is a discussion group of CoOL intended for those professionally involved with conservation of museum, library or archive materials.

Technical and Standards

American National Standards Institute
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) serves as an administrator and coordinator of the United States private sector voluntary standardization system. Founded in 1918 by five engineering societies and three government agencies, the Institute remains a private, non-profit membership organization supported by a diverse constituency of private and public sector organizations. The Institute represents the interests of its nearly 1,400 company, organization, government agency, institutional and international members. ANSI facilitates development of American National Standards by establishing consensus among qualified groups. The web site includes a searchable database of standards documents, and an extensive "Library" section that explains the standards development process.

Image Permanence Institute Rochester, NY
Rochester Institute Of Technology, College Of Imaging Arts and Sciences, Image Permanence Institute, (716) 475-5199, Rochester, NY 14604
The Image Permanence Institute is a research laboratory at the Rochester Institute of Technology focused on the preservation of imaging and recording materials. There are nine scientists providing consulting services and technical resources for clients which include libraries, archives, manufacturers of recording materials and manufacturers of enclosure materials. The Image Permanence Institute publishes 4-5 papers a year based on laboratory studies on material behavior, including recommendations to collection managers.

The National Media Lab
The National Media Laboratory (NML) Strategic Alliance was created to bring commercial information technology expertise to the U.S. government for the tasks of collecting, exploiting, disseminating and archiving data. Through the National Technology Alliance (NTA), a partnership between government, industry and academia, information technologies developed in the commercial world are leveraged for the benefit of government users. Currently, the NTA is comprised of three national labs. The National Media Laboratory (NML) is one of these labs and is hosted by the 3M Company. NML strives to provide and facilitate forums in which data storage issues may be discussed. NML's publications, NML Reviews, NML Bits Newsletter, and Technical Briefings, are intended to introduce and develop ideas and foster networking opportunities between these groups. The National Technology Alliance Online provides access to the National Media Lab's Media Stability Technical Reports.  Also available is Guidelines for the Storage and Handling of Recorded Information, Information on Storage Media Longevities, Damage and Disaster Recovery and links to other information. Materials can also be accesses through National Technology Alliance.

Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers
The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) is an international technical society devoted to advancing the theory and application of motion-imaging technology including film, television, video, computer imaging, and telecommunications. Members are practitioners from almost every discipline in the motion-imaging industry. SMPTE develops standards and recommended practices and engineering guidelines, created by study groups. SMPTE also organizes annual conferences and publishes the SMPTE Journal, containing technical papers, tutorials, articles, standards updates, and reports on SMPTE Sections' activities.

WGBH Universal Preservation Format Initiative
This project advocates for a format for the long-term storage of electronically generated media. The concept of a universal preservation format is to store the media in such a way that the information could be retrieved regardless of the medium or the computer operating system used. The goal is to make the process of preserving and accessing electronic records, both original and migrated (those existing previously in another format, like video) more efficient, cost-effective, and simpler. The Recommended Practice document, developed through a Study Group of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, will suggest guidelines for engineers when designing computer applications that involve or interact with digital storage. The Universal Preservation Format web site contains an extensive list of news and reports, presentations and background information relating to the development of the project and the concept. A listserv has also been set up at [email protected].

Information Services

Independent Media Arts Preservation
IMAP is a consortium of professionals working to preserve and advocate for independent media preservation, IMAP is a key resource on the care and preservation of older media formats and provides information and referral on such issues as collection management, cataloguing and re-mastering. IMAP's primary interest is to support the preservation of works reflecting the early history of independent media. IMAP focuses on the preservation of non-commercial productions such as video art, audio art, and technology-based installation art; independent documentary and narratives; community media; and documentation of arts and culture. IMAP was formed to continue the leadership formerly undertaken by the New York-based organization Media Alliance.

The International Association for Media and History
The International Association for Media and History is a group of professional film and television broadcasters, scholars, and others who are concerned about film, radio, television and their relations to history. Activities include conferences, a journal, The Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television,
an E-mail forum, and critically evaluated links to related websites.

The International Federation of Television Archives
FIAT/IFTA is a non-profit association of television archives organized in 1977 to encourage cooperation among members, and to promote the compatibility of audio-visual documentation systems as well as documentation exchange. FIAT holds periodic conferences and publishes a newsletter, available in full on the web site. Also included on the web site is information about  FIAT/IFTA Handbook Recommended Standards and Procedures for Selection and Preservation of Television Programme Material.

Media Alliance
Founded in 1979, Media Alliance is an advocacy and service organization dedicated to advancing the independent media arts. Media Alliance provides media arts information and referral, publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, Media Matters, and convenes members for workshops, conferences and working groups on pressing issues. Media Alliance also provides funding to rural media groups through the Media Action Grant. In 1991, Media Alliance and the New York State Council on the Arts conducted a national survey of video art collections, and organized the first conference on video preservation for media arts organizations the same year. Since that time Media Alliance has served as an information clearinghouse on video preservation for the media arts field. Since 1991, Media Alliance has provided the media arts field with comprehensive information and technical assistance on all aspects of preservation, and is nationally recognized for its collaborative projects, including a Regional Cataloging Project coordinated by cataloger Jim Hubbard, and a series of preservation surveys conducted by conservator Paul Messier. In recent years, Media Alliance also published Video Preservation: Securing the Future of the Past,  by Deirdre Boyle, and the Magnetic Media Preservation Sourcebook,  edited by Mona Jimenez and Liss Platt

Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc.
Founded in 1979, the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. (ART) is a not-for-profit organization representing a diverse group of more than 330 archivists, librarians, and records managers in the New York metropolitan area. It is one of the largest local organizations of its kind in the United States with members representing more than 160 repositories.

The Regional Alliance for Preservation (RAP)
RAP was began in February 1997 as a pilot project of the Commission on Preservation and Access (Washington, DC) to foster cooperation among the Preservation Field Service programs funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. When pilot-project funding ended in February 1998, participants decided to continue RAP as a cooperative program, and in October of that year, the alliance expanded to include members of the Association of Regional Conservation Centers (ARCC). Initial funding enabled RAP to begin publishing an occasional newsletter. The Institute for Museum and Library Services has funded the development of this Web site.

Audio Preservation

Association for Recorded Sound Collections
ARSC is a non-profit organization whose main purpose is to develop and disseminate information related to all fields of recording and sound media. ARSC works for the preservation of historical sound recordings, promotes the exchange of information, and fosters an awareness of the importance of recorded sound in our culture. ARSC also provides a forum for the development and dissemination of discographic information in all fields and periods of recording and in the sound media. ARSC holds an annual conference. The ARSC Journal reports on major research, technical developments, discographies, record and book reviews, and includes a current bibliography of related articles in other publications. Associated Audio Archives Committee is devoted to the dissemination of information of interest to sound archives in institutions, including issues of audio preservation and all aspects of sound archive administration. ARSC sponsors an Internet discussion list to facilitate the exchange of information on sound archives and promote communication among those interested in preserving, documenting, and making accessible the history of recorded sound. Messages are archived. The list is hosted by The Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester.

Audio Engineering Society
The Audio Engineering Society (AES) is the only professional society devoted exclusively to audio technology, serving its members, the industry and the public by stimulating and facilitating advances in the field of audio. SC-03 Subcommittee on the Preservation and Restoration of Audio Recording
The scope of the AES committee includes test methods, practices, and specifications pertaining to the life expectancy and retrieval of audio information recorded on mechanical, optical and magnetic systems, including their respective media.

International Association of Sound Archives
IASA is a non-governmental organization affiliated with UNESCO. IASA supports the professional exchange of information and fosters international cooperation between audiovisual archives in all fields, especially in the areas of acquisition and exchange, documentation, access and exploitation, copyright, and conservation and preservation. IASA Committees include Technical, Cataloguing, Documentation, Discography, National Archives, Training, and Radio Sound Archives.

Digital and Internet Preservation

Commission of Preservation and Access at CLIR
The Commission is sponsored in part by libraries, archives, colleges, universities, and others concerned with preservation. Among CLIR's priorities is studying ways to insure preservation and accessing of digital information

International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems
InterPARES is part of the world's archival community dedicated to researching the long-term preservation of records created in electronic systems. The site has resources area with reports, glossary and related sites.

Internet Archive
This organization is collecting and storing public materials from the Internet such as the World Wide Web, Netnews, and downloadable software. The Archive will provide historians, researchers, scholars, and others access to this vast collection of data and ensure the longevity of this information.

Tracking Information Online:
The Digital Object Identifier  is a system for identifying and tracking objects on the Internet. Digital Object Identifiers: Promise and Problems for Scholarly Publishing  (The Journal of Electronic Publishing, Volume 4,Issue 2, March, 1999. Additional information can be found at FileOpen Systems.

WGBH Universal Preservation Format Initiative
This project advocates for a format for the long-term storage of electronically generated media so it can be retrieved regardless of the medium or the computer operating system used. The web site contains extensive information. A listserv has also been set up.


AV Media Matters was formed in 1999 and focuses primarily on technical issues. To subscribe, send an email to [email protected].

AMIA-L is AMIA's listserv, a great way to learn about preservation and to ask questions to a wide range of experts around the world. The listserv is archived.

Archive-L is a listserv initiated by members of the Society for Cinema Studies and the Association of Moving Image Archivists interested in the intersection of concerns, perspectives, and endeavors shared by archivists and academics in the moving image field. To subscribe to Archive-L, send the following message to [email protected]: subscribe Archive-L.

Conservation OnLine Conservation DistList is a discussion group of CoOL intended for those professionally involved with conservation of museum, library or archive materials