Preserving our history

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. We are at risk of losing them.

IU President Michael McRobbie announces the Media Digitization & Preservation Initiative

Indiana University's archival research holdings 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 the time-based media 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 this study, recognizing the survey in "The state of recorded sound preservation in the United States: A national legacy at risk in the digital age."

MDPI has since become a model example for preservation and digitization across the higher education landscape. This is due both to the university's partnership with Memnon Archiving Services—preservation specialists charged with managing on-site digitization facilities—and the initiative's comprehensiveness. Approximately 80 units at IU Bloomington have opened their archives to the project.