January 28, 2022

Indiana University President Announces 5 Year/$15 Million Media Preservation and Digitization Initiative

Note: On October 5, 2013 and October 10, 2013 we updated post with additional coverage. Link below.

From Indiana University:

Indiana University President Michael McRobbie laid out his vision Tuesday for what he’s calling the Indiana University Strategic Plan for the Bicentenary at the annual State of the University speech.

The comprehensive plan is a roadmap for where McRobbie wants IU to be in six years.


McRobbie addressed a number of university advancements over the past year including tying tuition costs with student performance, but the heart of the speech focused on IU’s Media Preservation and Digitization Initiative (MPDI).


McRobbie directed Vice Presidents for Information Technology and Research, along with the Dean of Libraries to develop an IU Digitization Master Plan that would support research, education and preservation of knowledge in preparation for the Strategic Plan for the Bicentenary.

Bringing together the offices of the President, Provost and Vice President, IU will have a combined $15 million over the next five years in which to digitize the university.


A study estimates IU has about half a million objects of value. McRobbie says making these available digitally by the Bicentenary in six years is no easy task, but one that’s  crucial to IU’s future.

“Unless we take action now many of these precious objects-many potentially vital to scholarship and part of the heritage of IU will be lost forever,” McRobbie says.

Read the Complete Announcement

See Also: Media digitization initiative unveiled (via Indiana Daily Student)

“The huge amounts of textual, image and video data will present opportunities for study and projects in the graduate programs in data science and big data research,” McRobbie said. “The complex technical and policy issues involved in the conversion and preservation of these materials will also be subjects for study in the digital media curriculum that is planned to be offered jointly by the MSchool and SoIC.”

UPDATE October 10:  University taps $15 million to digitize audio, video media (via IDS)

The Indiana Media Preservation Access Center will provide the preservation and access digitization services necessary to preserve 284,000 audio recordings, 66,000 video recordings and 58,000 films, all within 15 years, according to the IMPAC website.

According to the digitization proposal published on the Media Preservation Initiative website, digitization is necessary to preserve IU’s media collections not only for easier access, but because the physical copies of these collections are deteriorating.


IU is the first university of its kind to embark on a digitization process such as the MPDI, Wheeler said.

UPDATE October 5: Push on to digitize almost 500,000 IU archives (via Herald-Times, Bloomington, IN)

IU has contracted with Memnon Archiving Services to set up a processing hub in Bloomington. The university’s ambition is — through its experience during the Media Preservation and Digitization Initiative (MPDI) — to be ahead of the curve in the digital preservation field.

“There is increasing interest in this area, not only in academia but commercially, as the gravity of the preservation situation with such material becomes more widely recognized,” McRobbie said. “Hence, we expect that MPDI will make IU a leader in this field and truly pre-eminent, and open up many new opportunities for partnership and collaboration.”

Brad Wheeler, IU’s vice president for information technology, looked to the University of Southern California and its effort to preserve Holocaust testimonials as one comparison, or the work done by the Smithsonian on various projects as another, but he really saw the move by IU to digitize hundreds of thousands of articles of media as “unprecedented.” These objects are all over campus, some in the film and music departments, others in the athletic department, for example.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.