May 23, 2022

Preservation and Access: “Data from New York Public Library Audio and Moving Image Initiative”

From a Post Guest on the Indiana University Media Digitization & Preservation Initiative Blog by Rebecca Holte Manager, Audio and Moving Image Preservation, Digital Collections Services, New York Public Library:

The New York Public Library (NYPL), like IU Bloomington, Harvard University, and so much of our cultural heritage community, has recognized the risks inherent in its recorded audio and moving image collections. While our mass-digitization efforts really scaled up a couple of years after IU’s, we’ve made significant progress and are thrilled to finally be at a point where we’re able to share some cumulative data with the community.

To provide a little background, NYPL’s audio and video labs were born within performing arts curatorial divisions and were built up to fulfill both the preservation and access needs of those units. The labs were united under the Preservation Division roughly 10-15 years ago to serve all NYPL Research Centers (prioritizing special collections). Around the same time, digitization-to-file became a routine practice for audio, with video following a few years later.

1n 2014, NYPL completed an audio and moving image (AMI) collection assessment funded by the Mellon Foundation, where we found that we held over 800,000 AMI recordings in the Research Centers, nearly 230,000 of which were a preservation priority. And as we’ve progressed with an item-level inventory and incorporated new acquisitions, that number has easily exceeded a quarter-million recordings. Our endeavor to ramp up our preservation efforts has been titled the NYPL Audio and Moving Image Initiative. By the end of 2019, we will have digitized more than 180,000 recordings, and mass digitization efforts work will continue for at least the next few years. The initial phase has focused on magnetic and optical media, with film digitization to begin in 2020 and grooved media (discs, cylinders) at a future date.

Read the Complete Blog Post, View Charts (approx. 1350 words)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.