Recording the unique experience, an audio visual history

Tracey McKillen 
Educational Technology

Recording the Unique Experience, an Audio Visual History, is a large scale digitisation project aiming to preserve video footage charting the growth and development of the University of Limerick (UL) from 1972 to the present. Until the start of the project in October 2014, the video reels and tapes were stored in the video editing room in the basement of a University building. Through the retirement of the Information Technology Division’s (ITD) longstanding Audio Visual technician, the video editing room passed into the ownership of the Educational Technology Section of which the author is a member. On examining the video reels and tapes, it was established that some of the University’s most important audio visual archives of the last 40 years were stored on this magnetic tape. The author realised that there would be a risk of losing this historical material if digitisation did not take place from the original tapes before they degrade in quality.

Another project aim is to make this historical material available to the University campus community and the wider public. In its original tape format, the content of the collections remain inaccessible because the University does not have the appropriate machines on which to play some of the tape formats. Older reels and video tape can also be extremely vulnerable, making it susceptible to damage in the playback process. Digitising this historical material offers the University the double benefits of preservation and accessibility.

To ensure the digitisation of the historical audio visual material was carried out correctly and to international archiving and digitisation standards the author held discussions with Glucksman Library staff, including the (Head of Technical and Digital Services and the Head of Special Collections), to discuss a plan for both the digitised files and the actual reels and video tapes once digitisation is complete.

When the author had discussions with the external digitisation specialist (Specialist AV), preparing the digital files into suitable formats for archiving and uploading into the UL Digital Library was a priority. Once returned to the University, the reels and video tapes will be handed over to the Special Collections for archiving and permanent storage.

An exhibition was held throughout May and June 2015, to highlight the existence of the historical audio visual material to the campus community and also to campus visitors. It was hoped this coverage would bring about donations to add to the collection of audio visual material.

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