Reintroducing our MDPI Blog

Welcome back

To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.
--Leonard Bernstein, as found on the cap of a bottle of Honest Tea green tea

We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that’s all we’ve got

--David Bowie

Since we last blogged in 2013 we have acquired both a plan and a timeframe for our race to save media recordings from the ravages of degradation and obsolescence. We have also acquired an extra letter in our initialism – from MPI (Media Preservation Initiative) to MDPI  (Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative). As we embark upon the implementation phase of our project as well as this new blog, we thought it might be helpful to bring everyone up to date. Here is what happened:

  • October 2013 state of the University address in which IU President Michael McRobbie  announced the creation of MDPI
  • President McRobbie charged MDPI with digitizing all significant audio and video in time for the IU Bicentennial in 2020
  • An agreement was reached with Memnon Archiving Services, now a Sony company, to digitize the bulk of the recordings using parallel transfer workflows where one operator digitizes multiple recordings at the same time
  • IU developed a smaller facility using 1:1 workflows to handle fragile formats (for example, cylinders and lacquer discs) as well as problem items that are not appropriate for the industrial-scale Memnon workflows
  • IU renovated the first floor of its Innovation Center from December 2014 to May 2015 to house both the Memnon and IU operations. The facility includes 21 rooms over 8,400 square feet
  • After installation and testing, the Innovation Center facility began production in June 2015
  • As of November 2015, more than 35,000 recordings have been digitized!

As you might expect, much work has gone on behind the scenes by many people in order to make all of the above happen and to make this a successful project. Almost immediately after  President McRobbie’s announcement, various working groups and task forces were formed to work on different aspects of the project. Just a few of the projects these groups have been tasked with are:

  • Developing the workflow and the procedures for moving and tracking recordings from pick-up to return
  • Designing and creating the software used for tracking said materials
  • Designing both the Memnon and IU digitization facilities
  • Storing and preserving the digital files that are created
  • Devising the policies and procedures for post-digitization quality control.  

There is still more work to be done. For example, we are currently working on one of the most important aspects of this project, which is access to the materials once they are digitized. To that end, the Libraries have recently hired a consulting firm, AVPreserve, to help us explore the issues around metadata for the MDPI project in a way that enables maximum usability and management of the content that is digitized. As you can see, much progress has been made. We’re out of the gate and running neck and neck with Degralescence (Degradation + Obsolescence) but we have a ways to go before we reach that finish line. This blog will continue to cover project updates as we move forward, and will also examine various aspects of our work in more depth than this very brief overview. We plan to feature posts that address workflow issues including those that both teach us and challenge us as well as posts exploring any number of media preservation and access concerns. We’re glad to have you along for the ride.

Mike Casey, Director of Technical Operations, MDPI
Sherri Michaels, Head of Collection Management, IU Libraries