17 June 2022

Rolling through the AV Archives

Written by: Krysta Bruce

Hello everyone, I’m Krystjana Bruce! I just coming up on my first month at the Harpers Ferry Center under the National Park Service. As a Data Asset Management Intern, I am currently focused on preserving files from the Center’s Audio-Visual Archive. Most of the files I am dealing with are on hard drives, thumb drives, data DVDs, and data CDs. The Center creates a lot of different videos and images for the different parks around the country. The pamphlets given out at each park, and the videos played at Visitor Centers often come from this center.

The main purpose of the AV Archives is for the Center to be able to use the material for future research as well as provide information and files to Parks on request. To preserve the information for future use, I am transferring the information off the hard drives and other storage media and placing it onto a new external hard drive. Hard drives and thumb drives will eventually stop working, so if you have any old ones, it is always good to open them up and check on the information. Move anything you want to save to a new location. I started on the Archive’s files that are around 20 years old, and I have already come across some files which have broken and can no longer be accessed.

Archives are usually kept in a room with controlled temperature so preserve the files and keep them in the best condition. The boxes used at the archive are acid-free, because a lot of regular boxes have acid in the material, which can then affect the items stored in them over time. My desk is in a separate room, so I must move the file boxes when I need to work on them. I have discovered that boxes full of CDS, DVDs, thumb drives, and hard drives are quite heavy. So, most people at the Center can find me going around with a cart, so I can safely move the boxes to my desk.

Although this seems unrelatable to ordinary life, it is helpful to think about your digital files and their storage conditions. If you have purposely saved something on a hard drive or data CD or DVD, it must have been important to you. I know personally my mom buys the photo DVDs when she printed photos, to have a backup of the photos. After starting this work, I have realized that over time the storage media breaks down, and the digital files need to be moved to save them. Now I can tell my mom that she should move those photos to a new storage space, like the cloud or a hard drive, so she can still have the photos in the future.

Agency: National Park Service

Program: Harpers Ferry Center Program

Location: Harpers Ferry Center for Media Services

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