L-120a. Introduction to Audiovisual Archives Management (22 hours)

Erica Titkemeyer Steve Weiss

Course Length: 22 hours
Schedule: 11 a.m.–5 p.m. ET (including breaks), 28 June–2 July 2021
Format: Online
Course fee: $1,000

Media archives present a unique and invaluable world of historical and cultural content captured on an array of aging and obsolete audio, video, and film formats that present unique preservation challenges. Unlike paper, audiovisual media has a very limited lifespan and requires specialized knowledge to safely and accurately evaluate, describe, conserve, replay, and reformat it for preservation and access.

This class will be particularly helpful for collectors, students, librarians, and archivists who plan to or are currently working with media in their collections, but who are stymied by the lack of opportunities to gain the education and experience required to facilitate a coordinated or comprehensive response to unlock their collections’ content and ensure its longevity.

Through selected readings, lectures, class discussions, special guests, and demonstrations of AV formats, mold cleaning, film inspection, and tours of preservation studios, students will

  • Gain an understanding of the history of sound, television, and film technologies and how they work.
  • Learn how to identify media types found in archival collections, including wax cylinders, discs (instantaneous, radio transcription, 78rpm, 45rpm and LPs), magnetic tape (open-reel, cassette, DAT, videotape), and optical discs (CD, CD-R, DVD, DVD-R, BluRay), as well as 8mm, Super 8, and 16mm (nitrate, acetate, and polyester-based) motion-picture film.
  • Understand the risks inherent in each type, such as technological obsolescence and physical decomposition due to aging and environment, and learn how to identify and treat common problems like delamination, sticky-shed syndrome, mold, vinegar syndrome, and disc rot.
  • Learn what methods of cleaning are recommended for each media type.
  • Learn how to conduct a preservation survey.
  • Learn how to plan and manage a preservation project. Accomplishing this objective will include evaluating what solution is best for their collection, learning how to select and work with a preservation vendor, discerning standards for physical and digital storage to ensure the content’s long-term viability, seeking grant funding, and managing a preservation and access project.
  • Attain an understanding of copyright laws that apply to the preservation and access of audiovisual recordings.

In their personal statements, applicants are encouraged to share information about their experience working with audiovisual materials and specific audiovisual collection challenges they are currently facing within their collections. Applicants should also include a description of their professional education and work experience.

Course History

Erica Titkemeyer and Steve Weiss teach this course.


  • Erica Titkemeyer
  • Steve Weiss

Erica Titkemeyer

Erica Titkemeyer is the Project Director and AV Conservator for the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). In this position they coordinate a multi-year $1.75 million grant-funded initiative to preserve audiovisual materials for UNC-CH and partner institutions across the state of North Carolina. Erica is also the Product Owner of the open-source audiovisual database management application, Jitterbug. Erica received their M.A. in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and their B.S. in Cinema and Photography from Ithaca College.

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Steve Weiss

Steve Weiss is Curator of UNC Chapel Hill Library’s Southern Folklife Collection, one of the nation’s foremost archives dedicated to American Vernacular Music. Steve teaches audiovisual archives management as an adjunct professor in UNC’s School of Information and Library Science. He has written and managed multiple successful grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Grammy Foundation. Prior to his work at UNC, he worked for the Motion Picture Sound and Video Branch of the National Archives and Records Administration and CNN’s Washington, DC Bureau. Steve holds an M.I.L.S. in Information and Library Studies from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Audio Technology from American University.

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