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Fundamentals of AV Preservation


Kara Van Malssen, Partner and Senior Consultant, AVPreserve


This chapter outlines the fundamentals of disaster prevention, preparedness, and recovery for audiovisual collections. The contents of this chapter address issues of disaster preparedness and response for physical collections--discs, reels, cassettes, and film--that occupy shelves and boxes. However, one thread that will run throughout this chapter is the necessity of performing reformatting and digital preservation for disaster preparedness purposes. As this textbook makes clear, transforming the content of physical media into digital files is critical as analog equipment and expertise rapidly disappears and demands for accessing digital content increase. Disaster prevention and recovery are yet another justification for digitization and proper digital preservation. If managed correctly, through proper backup and geographic separation, recovery of digital data from an offsite copy will be a relatively painless and lossless process compared to the difficult recovery and virtual guarantee of a certain degree of loss in the event that a flood or fire affects physical media.

Collection managers should prioritize digitization and digital collections management for valuable materials. In the meantime, taking measures to protect collections will go a long way toward ensuring that their contents will be accessible over the long term. 

Another tenet of this chapter is that disaster preparedness does not have a stopping point or an ending point. Once one risk is addressed, another can emerge. In order to be effective, disaster preparedness must be an ongoing, integrated part of collection management.



Section 1: Disaster Prevention and Mitigation ›