Here’s something that you may not have known: this Sunday, October 27th, is World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. And why should you care? While you may be hard pressed to find a Happy World Day for Audiovisual Heritage card at the Hallmark store, it speaks to a very important issue. Experts estimate that we have only 10 to 15 years left to digitize the wealth of content on analog audiovisual media—such as film, reel-to-reel tape, and even VHS—dating to the mid to late 20th century. This material constitutes an indispensable complement to the written record of our collective world history, and it is at risk of permanent loss due to the vulnerability of these media to decay, damage, and playback obsolescence.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage in 2005 in order to acknowledge the importance of audiovisual recordings and raise general awareness of the need for urgent measures to be taken to preserve them.
Pepperdine University Libraries has responded to this charge by partnering with the California Audiovisual Preservation Project, an initiative of the California Preservation Program that provides digitization and access services for historic California audiovisual recordings. So far, more than two dozen films, reel-to-reel tapes, and other vulnerable recordings in our Special Collections and University Archives have been digitized for preservation purposes through this collaboration. These recordings, such as this recently digitized speech by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at the 1985 Pepperdine Law School Dinner, are now available in our Pepperdine Digital Collections.
Please visit the links above to discover how you can contribute to the preservation of the world’s audiovisual heritage.