Videotapes Are Becoming Unwatchable As Archivists Work To Save Them
Kidd and the others are archivists and preservationists, and they’re part of a group called XFR Collective (pronounced Transfer Collective). Most work professionally, but they volunteer their free time to do this.
That’s because research suggests that tapes like this aren’t going to live beyond 15 to 20 years. Some call this the “magnetic media crisis,” and archivists, preservationists, and librarians like the ones in the XFR Collective are trying to reverse it.
Some are old videos of police brutality; others are just weddings or old public access TV that isn’t saved anywhere else. All tapes are from people who want their content to be publicly available, and after the tapes are transferred, they’re stored on the nonprofit Internet Archive. To date, they’ve transferred 155 tapes—67 hours in total.
Of course, this doesn’t guarantee that they will be saved forever. Digital has its own problems, and Lukk says that some film preservationists argue we should be looking back to before magnetic media for stable preservation — many Hollywood films, for instance, are often stored on film in salt mines, where they can last 100 years.