February 17, 2018

Vanderbilt U. TV News Archive Goes Digital

By LJ Staff

The 35th anniversary of Vanderbilt University’s Television News
Archive is being marked by making the collection digital. Since August 1968,
archivists at Vanderbilt have preserved on videotape and indexed nearly 40,000
hours of network news just as they aired on television, primarily on ABC, CBS,
and NBC. Some CNN programs dating from 1989 are also included. Complete
videotapes of television news programs were not saved on a regular basis until
the Vanderbilt collection was begun. Abstracts of individual programs, first
made available to researchers in print, have been compiled electronically and
made available over the Internet since 1994. Using the abstracts to locate items
of interest, researchers can borrow copies of the videotapes for a fee. Now the
archive has taken another giant step with the purchase of new digital recording
equipment, made possible through a private donor. The nontape recording will
allow for quicker handling of client requests and reduced labor costs. Requests
will continue to be filled on videocassettes, but in the future, there is the
possibility of loans on DVD or even streaming content directly to an end user. A
National Science Foundation grant of $93,000 enabled archive staff to research
and test the various options for setting up a digital recording operation before
deciding on the MPEG-2 video standard.