Library of Congress

Digital Preservation

The Library of Congress > Digital Preservation > Feature Series > Meeting the Challenge > Preserving Audiovisual Works: The Packard Campus

Back to Meeting the Challenge

The Library of Congress holds the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of audiovisual works, including more than 6.2 million moving images, sound recordings and related documents. These materials are increasingly being created and distributed in digital form, and the Library is meeting the challenge to collect and preserve this valuable cultural heritage in the digital environment.

Packard Campus in Culpeper, Va. Photo by Bob Bieberdorf

Packard Campus in Culpeper, Va. Photo by Bob Bieberdorf

The new Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation, located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Culpeper, Va., will showcase the Library’s preservation efforts in a state-of-the-art locale.

The campus, a gift from the Packard Humanities Institute, represents the largest-ever private gift to the U.S. legislative branch of government and one of the largest ever to the federal government. The 415,000-square-foot campus consolidates the Library’s audiovisual collections in one location and greatly enhances the Library’s efforts to preserve and make accessible its collections of moving image and sound recordings.

For the first time, the Library will have the capability and capacity to transfer hundreds of thousands of hours of recorded sounds and moving images from their deteriorating analog sources to digital files that can be refreshed, migrated to new media over time and maintained in a digital storage archive. The center’s technologies will increase the Library’s ability to produce high-quality preservation copies of materials that are deteriorating in their current formats and will also provide researchers with improved access to more of these materials in the future. In the first year of operation, the center’s digital-preservation output is expected to reach two petabytes of archived content, with production levels increasing to an annual rate of three to five petabytes as additional preservation systems are brought online.

In the center’s sound, video and film laboratories’ robotic preservation production systems will operate around the clock, transferring content from endangered videotapes to digital files. Other equipment will rescue rare sounds and moving images from the world’s earliest recording media, which have become largely inaccessible because playback devices have become increasingly scarce. Motion picture films will be scanned from deteriorating nitrate and safety film elements, restored using modern digital tools and recorded back onto master film copies. To preserve the nation’s broadcast heritage, television and radio programming will be recorded from off-air, satellite and cable sources, and Web-based audiovisual content will be captured from the Internet and archived.

From the hands-on copying of rare and fragile materials to streamlined digital processes, the Packard Campus will provide for significantly increased preservation capabilities and capacities. The facility brings together the craftsmanship of traditional film and audio preservation efforts with an increased focus on addressing the acquisition and preservation systems necessary to address the significant quantities of digital multimedia content that the Library will be adding in the future.