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September2007
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There’s a Hole in the Mountain, Dear Liza, Dear Liza

The hole in question is the Library's new state-of-the-art audiovisual facility in Culpeper, Va. Burrowed some 50 feet into the side of Mount Pony, the Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center is a 415,000-square-foot complex that now houses six million items from the Library's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Once a secret, nuclear-blast-proof Cold War bunker, the largely underground facility is filled with climate-controlled vaults, isolated sound booths and an art deco-style theater where movies will be screened to the public.

The Packard Campus, National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, in Culpeper, Va Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca."

Spearheaded by David Woodley Packard and the nonprofit Packard Humanities Institute, the Packard Campus, with a construction cost of more than $150 million, represents the largest-ever private gift to the Library of Congress and one of the largest ever to the federal government.

One of the center's crucial missions is to transfer priceless historical images and sounds from fragile cylinders, tapes or films to digital files, which are more accessible and longer lasting. The latest technologies will be used, such as SAMMA, a robot that can load and digitize videocassettes 24 hours a day, and special vibration-free transcription turntables—of the 20 in existence, the Library has 13!

The Library was officially "handed the keys" on July 26, during a conveyance ceremony featuring Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, Packard, acclaimed baritone Thomas Hampson and several congressional leaders. The webcast of the event is available as part of the series of online presentations documenting the multitude of events held at the Library.

The National Audio-Visual Conservation Center is just one of the Library's initiatives designed to recognize the richness and variety of our nation's audiovisual legacy.  Each year, the Librarian announces the National Recording Registry and the National Film Registry, annual selections of culturally, historically or aesthetically significant recorded sounds and motion pictures to be added to the Library's audiovisual collections, which are housed at the Packard Campus.


A. The Packard Campus, National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, in Culpeper, Va. Photograph by Bob Bieberdorf. Reproduction Information: Not available for reproduction.

B. Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca." SUMMARY: The Library holds and has preserved the original negative of "Casablanca," which was added to the National Film Registry in 1989, the year of the registry's inception. 1942. Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Reproduction Information: Not available for reproduction.