“We just threw them in a box, and eventually the box got thrown away” said the manager of a local TV station, as we talked about what happened to his station’s old newsfilm. The tragedy of this short-sighted approach is that today, that material would have tremendous value in the local community. We live in an age in which so much of our news is pre-digested and comes from national sources. But what is happening – or more to the point, what happened in the past – attracts tremendous local interest.
When the Archives recently had a showing of some of our old material in Knoxville, we were surprised at the overflow crowds. People love seeing things the way they used to be! And so the lack of a long-term strategy for archiving that day-to-day news footage has deprived us of what would today be a fascinating glimpse of who we were.
Whats even more heartbreaking is the discovery that old reels of tape or film that have been carefully saved are literally rotting on shelves! Or worse still, there are few if any working players or projectors of the format they were recorded on!
The most immediate solution would seem to be to digitize everything – until you stop to think that CDs and DVDs have an even shorter shelf-life than these old formats! Most people don’t realize that the microscopic layer that holds the data on these “permanent seeming discs” eventually oxidizes and becomes unreadable.
Fortunately, there are some solutions in the works, such as disc writers that use an obsidian-based material that should last 1,000 years! TAMIS and many other Archives are looking into these as a possible solution to the long term storage of our material.
But maintaining the old systems to play these videotape and film formats is expensive, as are the modern digitizing and long-term storage systems. Thats why if you like what we’re doing, TAMIS needs your support!
If you are able to donate any items, or contribute to their purchase, please contact us!
Financial donations are always welcomed and appreciated. TAMIS is a 501 c non-profit organization, and all donations are tax deductible.