Inspection of off-site library resources…05.28.08

28 05 2008

Yesterday can best be described a balancing act on a tight wire crossing Niagara Falls with piranha biting at my feet.  Marketing deadlines were exacerbated by our changing daily live TV broadcasts so emergency product project management kicked into overdrive and library functions were put on the back burner for much of the day.  With the concerted efforts of many working in relative unison, impending deadlines were met with literally minutes to spare.

Today, I was back to multitasking various library and marketing duties simultaneously…

Anyway, to return to the narrative at hand, I will discuss the first investigatory trip to our off-site storage facilities to access the scope and condition of our collections out of state which occurred concurrently with the inventory.  A 3-day trip was made about 3 months into my job.  I requested and was approved to make this initial trip but again was given no guidance or direction although upon arrival a staff member did give a tour and brief explanation of where the materials in question where, how they got there, and a very general idea of the contents of the storage areas.

Our television production building was first visited and most of the time there was spent looking at a large videotape library on the main floor which was minimally organized in a manner only television production personnel who worked on our daily TV program would partially understand and only the TV director and a few others could actually use to successfully retrieve materials sought.  This was followed by a tour of an out building used for multiple storage purposes, including older archived material that were almost completely unorganized and in a state of disarray with many items in deteriorating condition.  All of the library resources at both locations were video archive materials in various video formats.

After the tour, a cursory but very incomplete inventory and inspection of storage boxes was done.  Upon arrival back at the home office, a report was generated which details my initial findings.  If you are interested further, you may read the excerpted trip report below.  It is rather tedious but helpful to comprehend the bigger picture.  The voluminous photos have been excised. The following is rather “quick and dirty” as time for blogging today has run out.  “…ay, there’s the rub…”

NOTE:  There is no indication that this submitted report in its original format was ever reviewed since no comments and/or feedback were received.

Tuesday 3/21/06

I arrived before noon Tuesday and met with personnel who gave me a tour of the facilities and introduced me to several other staff members.  One took a significant amount of the time trying to explain to me the current but incomplete organization of video masters in the various areas within the main building and the remote building.

Video Master Archive                      

Main Shelf Rack Area in Main Building: PHOTOS

Second Shelf Rack Area in Main Building: PHOTOS

Some of the video masters at the main building have been organized into a color-coded system and stored in an Access database.  The staff will find this database and email a copy to me when possible.  Here are photos showing the color-coded system:


Although the TV department maintains an Excel spreadsheet with segment reports and synopsis reports, there is no inventory of each individual physical item.  Each program, for example, will include a “Program” tape, an “ISO” tape, and a “Back Up” tape and sometimes with multiple tapes for each type.  The following photo shows the individual tapes for each program:


The following 7 pages are a few additional photos of shelves in the 40-shelf rack storage system to better show the variety and quantity of materials which must be cataloged, preserved, and stored.  We must remember that any additional cataloging/organization of or changes to the organization of these materials must be done with the TV Department’s awareness and approval.  The ultimate goal, besides better and more accurate cataloging of the materials, is to facilitate their use by the TV department now and in the future.

The items stored in this building will be placed in a yet to be determined off-site storage unit. 

The following photos of full storage cabinets, boxes, bookshelves and lateral files illustrated the huge amount of materials amassed which needs to be addressed:


Video Preservation Masters

In discussions after my tour, it was revealed that there are no protection masters of any of BHM programming stored at remote locations.  In case of disaster, i.e. fire, flood, earthquake, water incident, etc., all masters would be susceptible to damage or destruction.  The enormous investment of time and resources to create these unique materials could be lost in a single incident.  Some may or may not be able to be recreated.  It seems prudent, and I recommend, that there should be an assessment of the most valuable masters we possess to create dub masters for off-site, secure storage.

Before leaving for the day, it was determined that I would return on Wednesday to further document the size and condition of our current video archive and take photos of the areas where items are stored to graphically illustrate the magnitude and variety of items which need to be assessed, inventoried, cataloged and organized.  It would also dramatically emphasize how digitization, though costly and time-consuming, would preserve selected items, make them more easily accessible, and reduce physical space needed for storing them. 

Additionally, I planned to diagram the current general locations of the collections I saw and also begin a test inventory section on Wednesday to help estimate the amount of time required to inventory our the materials.  

Wednesday 3/22/06

On Wednesday morning, I spent time in the main (#1) video archive area taking pictures of storage racks, reviewing masters and inventorying just 1 of 40 pull-out racks containing stored video masters to begin the process of trying to determine how long just an inventory of the materials would take. 

Inventory Test

The one section inventoried included 221 lines of data to be entered into an Excel spreadsheet and took 2.5 hours to record.  The items in this section were well marked, not the case in each section.  At this pace, basic arithmetic sums up that a simple inventory of just the 40 video storage racks could take over 100 hours not counting time for data entry.

Wednesday afternoon was spent at building #2, the current video remote storage area.  Photos (over 100) were taken of each section along with samples of boxes or items non-labeled, in poor condition, and items of unknown worth due to damage, condition or format.  The following photos are from Bldg #2, the current remote storage area:


There are reel-to-reel audio masters in a large box:


There are boxes of 2” video masters:


There are quite a few boxes unlabeled and taped up in bins with various masters:


This next photo tries to show the poor condition of some materials.  These videos were covered in thick dust inside and outside their casings:


Audio cassette masters and paper files also in storage:


Below: Me thinking, “I’m sure glad the Lord knows where everything is!”


Wednesday evening and Thursday morning was spent preparing the first draft of this report.  Just to reiterate, all the photos taken for this report were taken merely to help everyone comprehend the magnitude of the project at hand. 

It is extremely important, in light of creating our cataloging, archiving, and preservation plans to learn the fate of the materials stored in the building to be sold.  I understand that all BHM materials, property, and staff housed there must be relocated. 


I have completed rough diagrams of the spaces currently used for storage in both (not to scale) and labeled each rack and section of each rack with a listing of the general contents.   These rough diagrams follow this report.


1) Of utmost importance for all of our resources in all locations, we need to have clear and specific goals for preservation, historical archiving, and long-term storage for possible future use along with a high level of commitment to the resources necessary to accomplish these goals.  To adequately catalog all of the materials currently stored, a clear direction on what we want to accomplish needs to be determined and an approved, executable, long-term plan needs to be formulated.  Just to inventory every item at the off-site will literally take weeks of labor.

2) A decision needs to be made as to which items in storage, if any, need to be discarded or preserved in a manner that will retain their quality and usefulness.   There are many items of questionable usefulness based upon age, content, quality and format.  For example, there are some very old audio cassette masters, audio reel-to-reel masters, ½” (VHS), ¾“and 2” video masters in storage.  Some audio masters may be damaged beyond use and it should be noted that some video/audio masters may not be able to be used due to being formats no longer in use.

3) A decision/plan needs to be made/formulated to make provision for digitization so we can digitally store for use and retrieval manuscripts, historical documents, printed sermons, sermon notes, etc.

During the next visit, we’ll hopefully know more about what we want and need to accomplish and can coordinate work there at the same time.  Having the library automation software purchased and installed will help expedite these projects.   Since the software is web-based, work with the software can happen at remote locations with internet access, such as during trips. 

4) Once library automation software is up and running, we need to make certain my laptop is configured with an internet service provider in order to be able to acquire internet access off-site so I can work on cataloging from any location.




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