A film of the St. Thomas campus from 1924. An audio recording of a commencement address given by Hubert Humphrey. Footage of early television episodes produced by St. Thomas. These are just a few of the many audio-visual treasures saved as a part of the University Archives’ audio and visual collections.
Audio–visual materials present unique challenges to archivists to preserve and make available over time. The devices required for playback for some recordings become obsolete (for example: reel-to-reel audiotape players and VCRs). Additionally, the chemical composition of the physical media on which they are stored (motion picture film, audio and video tape) may deteriorate resulting in loss of the recording. The conversion to and maintenance of digital format is the only way to ensure that these recordings can be preserved over time. The University Archives has undertaken several projects to reformat some of our most at risk materials to a digital format. But up to now, visitors and researchers have still been required to come to our physical reading room to view/listen to these recordings stored on DVDs and hard drives.
In 2019, the Libraries began the search to find a solution to make our audio-visual collection more readily available to users and to help ensure their preservation for the future. Our investigation led us to the Elevator media asset management software (developed by the University of Minnesota). In addition to making the collections viewable to users via the web, the software automatically allows for the conversion from a digital file’s original format to the most current standard.
In the Spring of 2020, a pilot project to describe and ingest a collection of previously reformatted and born-digital recordings into Elevator was initiated. The results of this project can now be seen in the University Archives Audio Visual Collection ( https://elevator.stthomas.edu/ ). This collection contains over 150 films, speeches and musical recordings from our holdings.
Currently, we are working on new projects relating to the Archives holdings from the Athletics Department. We hope to partner with other departments on campus to bring their media files to a larger audience in the future. Check back soon to view what is new!