Preserving our history in the digital age

Indiana University is home to more than three million pieces of invaluable audio and video recordings, film collections, and materials. Amassed over nearly 200 years, these treasures chart the evolution of music, film, academics, and cultural diversity.

We are at risk of losing them.

MDPI to showcase progress at IU Bloomington

Join the MDPI team for a series of interactive exhibits on the IU Bloomington campus. Visitors will learn more about the steps we're taking to preserve IU's history, and have an opportunity to:

  • Experience digitized audio and video from select collections
  • View antique recording and playback equipment (e.g., wax cylinders, wire recording equipment)
  • Explore new recording technologies courtesy of the UITS Applied Technologies Lab

Innovation Center (lobby)

Wednesday, May 6: 10am-2pm

The MDPI facility will also be open for tours and a demonstration.

Herman B Wells Library (main lobby)

Friday, May 8: 11am-5pm
Saturday, May 9: 1pm-5pm

During the 2013 State of the University address, President Michael A. McRobbie unveiled the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative (MDPI) with the two-fold mission of:

  • Preserving IU's vast compendium of historical and cultural artifacts
  • Making these gems easily accessible for future generations

MDPI in the news

IU media preservation initiative under way, looking for equipment

Challenge is finding outdated playback equipment, notes article by local newspaper

IU receives National Endowment for the Humanities grant for digital preservation

Award is part of NEH's Preservation and Access Research and Development program

Plale and Lewis to lead IU Digitization Master Plan

Professor Beth Plale and Dean David Lewis have been appointed to co-chair IU's Digitization Master Plan.

The initiative

IU has an unusually rich collection of unique and rare time-based media that document subjects of enduring value to the university, state of Indiana, and the world. Pieces range from wax cylinder sound recordings of Native American music to photographs of African American musicians in the post-World War II period to artifacts collected by The Kinsey Institute.

In 2008, the IU Bloomington Media Preservation Survey showed that large portions of these holdings were seriously endangered due to media degradation and format obsolescence.

A subsequent report outlined several recommendations to support long-range planning and address the tasks ahead.

The Library of Congress took note of the "Indiana Approach" to audio and video digitization, recognizing the survey in "The state of recorded sound preservation in the United States: A national legacy at risk in the digital age."

"The careful and thorough design and scope of the IU study might serve as a model for other institutions... Indiana University has a strong record of commitment to audio preservation and has earned recognition as a national leader in research and development of best practices in the field." Library of Congress sound preservation report

Addressing challenges: A timeline

  • 2010
    Former IU Provost Karen Hanson charges the Media Preservation Initiative Task Force with:
    • Developing plans for a campus media preservation center
    • Establishing strategies for preservation prioritization
    • Exploring media access issues and analyzing IU's technology
    • Investigating how the results of preservation work would engage existing campus research and instruction
  • 2011
  • 2012
    Fall: IU releases RFI; five companies respond
  • 2013
    February: IU issues RFP to three companies
    May: IU's RFP review team selects Memnon; proposes selection to Provost Lauren Robel
    June: Provost Robel presents proposal/funding request to President McRobbie
    July: President approves proposal and $15M funding
    October: IU signs contract with Memnon; President announces MDPI in State of the University address
  • 2014
    December: IU and Memnon partner to launch large-scale digitization operation in the IU Bloomington Tech Park

MDPI key leadership

President Michael A. McRobbie and Provost Lauren Robel have commissioned the initiative's co-chairs and executive director to undertake this monumental task of media digitization and preservation.

  • Photo of Carolyn WaltersCarolyn Walters
    MDPI Co-chair
    Ruth Lilly Dean of Indiana University Libraries
  • Photo of VP for IT and CIO Brad WheelerBrad Wheeler
    MDPI Co-chair
    Vice President for Information Technology & CIO
  • Photo of Laura Antolovic'Laurie Antolović
    Executive Director of MDPI
    OVPIT AVP and Deputy CIO
    AVP/COO of IU Tech Park


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