Since 2014, support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has enabled archivists and digitization specialists at Carolina’s University Libraries to investigate new methods for preserving audio and video records of the American South at a large scale. Now a capstone grant of $500,000 from the foundation will help them develop a long-range model for continuing this critical work.
The newest grant, which focuses on sustainability, began Oct. 1 and will end Sept. 30, 2023. It brings the nine-year funding total for Extending the Reach of Southern Audiovisual Sources to $3.4 million. Prior phases were devoted to research and development, implementation and expansion.
Carolina’s libraries have been working on audiovisual preservation since the 1980s, but those efforts tended to focus on individual items. The series of Mellon Foundation grants have allowed staff to consider how best to tackle collections that include thousands — or tens of thousands — of recordings, such as the holdings of the Southern Folklife Collection and the Southern Historical Collection, both part of the Wilson Special Collections Library.
The work is urgent, according to Erica Titkemeyer, associate head of repository services and grant co-lead.
“Audiovisual recordings are at risk of both obsolescence and deterioration. They will not be retrievable after a certain number of years,” said Titkemeyer. “There is a ticking clock that we are working with.”