Preserving Film Collections for the Future—An Essential Web Application

Film CansThe National Endowment for the Humanities has provided funds to IPI for an Education and Training project dealing with best practices for preserving film materials in museums, archives, libraries, and other repositories. This project will create an educational website called FilmCare.org that will include an easy-to-implement decision-making tool for preserving all types and formats of film materials. This resource will provide a comprehensive synthesis of several decades of scientific research and experience in the field of film preservation. It will highlight the need for defining sustainable approaches to film care and facilitate the process of implementing best-fit preservation strategies for a wide variety of real-life situations. Despite the undeniable move toward digital formats, photographic film collections are an important source of information for the humanities, and if properly cared for, these valuable records will be available to researchers and digitization programs far into the future.

FilmCare.org will be available as a standalone tool for self-education at no charge. The proposed project will bridge the gap between what is known today about film stability and what can be done to make preservation efforts a reality. Users will have access to critical information in a concise format, using visual aids and text written for non-technical readers. They will be guided through a series of steps which will enable them to evaluate, program, implement, and monitor the preservation of a collection. Through an interactive process, users will learn to identify the nature of film materials, design and conduct condition surveys, evaluate existing collection environments, and analyze findings. It will be possible to simulate certain improvements and their impact on the collections, choose between alternatives approaches, implement the appropriate preservation plan, and proactively monitor the quality of collection preservation over time.

IPI will develop the content, architecture, and functions of FilmCare.org, and program the application. An advisory board of media preservation experts will provide guidance and evaluate methodology. Five institutions will test and evaluate the web application before project completion. Results will be disseminated to the field through a series of webinars and presentations and will be posted on various distribution lists.