Skip to Content

Session 6: Media Collections


additional activities

This section gives examples of more detailed collection evaluations that you may wish to undertake for materials that have particular importance to your institution and/or are clearly in need of preservation attention.

These activities will require additional time, research, and information-gathering on your part, and are completely optional. They will prove useful as a starting point, however, if you choose to work with a specialist to conduct a collection condition survey of some portion(s) of your film and electronic media collection.

Motion Picture Film

Make a detailed listing of the types of motion picture film (e.g., 35mm, 16mm, 8mm) in your collection, indicating which were produced commercially (and thus may be duplicated elsewhere) and which are unique recordings. For amateur films, make a listing of the events/activities documented to the extent possible. Describe the general condition of all films.


Create a detailed listing of the original microforms (e.g., not commercially purchased) in your collection. Indicate the format (35mm, 16mm, microfiche), the type (silver gelatin, diazo, vesicular), and the generation (master negative, duplicate negative, positive copy) of the microforms. Describe their general condition.

Sound Recordings

If you have a large collection of sound recordings, make a detailed listing of the formats that are included (e.g., disc recordings, cylinders, reel-to-reel tapes, cassette tapes, CDs) and the general condition of each category. In most cases, you will want to focus on unique recordings, rather than commercially produced recordings that are duplicated elsewhere. To the extent possible, include a listing of the events/activities documented in the tapes. If it can be done without damaging them, consider producing a written transcription of the information on the recordings.


Create a listing of videotapes in your collection (focusing on unique recordings, not commercially produced tapes that are duplicated elsewhere). Indicate the formats (VHS, Beta) and the general condition of the items. To the extent possible, include a listing of the events/activities documented in the tapes.

Magnetic Disks and Optical Media

Create an inventory of all magnetic disks and optical media (CDs, DVDs, and BDs) in your collection that contain unique digital data with long term value. Provide a description of the format, the data contained on the item, and the hardware, operating system, and software required to access the data. Make a plan for periodically copying data with long-term value and migrating it to new formats as needed.