July 26, 2007 "Packard Campus" Gift Ushers in Dawn of New Era for Audio-Visual Conservation
Contact: Matt Raymond (202) 707-0020
Audio-visual conservation work by the Library of Congress is taking a giant leap forward as the Library acquires its new Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in a signing ceremony this evening.David Woodley Packard, President of the Packard Humanities Institute (PHI), will officially transfer the new facility, which will be accepted on behalf of the American people by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the congressional Joint Committee on the Library (as their schedules allow). Accepting on behalf of the Library will be Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Stephen Ayers, acting Architect of the Capitol, who is responsible for Library buildings and grounds. The 415,000-square-foot Packard Campus in Culpeper, Va., will consolidate audio-visual collections from across four states and the District of Columbia and will greatly enhance the Library’s efforts to preserve and make accessible the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of moving images and sound recordings. The facility, with a construction cost of more than $150 million, represents the largest-ever private gift to the U.S. legislative branch of government and one of the largest ever to the federal government. The U.S. Congress, since 2001, has provided an additional $82.1 million to support operations, maintenance, equipment and related costs. “The Library of Congress Packard Campus is not only a remarkable gift to the American people, but also an enduring promise that our nation’s creative patrimony will be preserved for today and tomorrow,” Dr. Billington said. “Today’s transfer is the culmination of years of vision and effort put forth by the Packard Humanities Institute and the Congress, in particular, who recognize the value of preserving the past in order to inform the future,” he said. “Thanks to private and public generosity and this unique partnership, we will be able to sustain an audio-visual legacy that might otherwise be lost to the ravages of time or indifference.” Said Mr. Packard: “We have been enormously impressed by the dedication of the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington, to increasing public access to the Library’s audio-visual collections, which will be stored at Culpeper. “The great potential of digital technology (relevant both for conservation and public access) has made it urgent, however, for Congress to review the legal framework in which libraries conserve their collections and provide public access to copyrighted items. “We strongly support continued efforts by the Library of Congress to develop practical mechanisms for providing broader access for researchers, students, and the public outside of Washington to audio-visual materials in the Library’s extraordinary collections.” The Packard Campus comprises three main areas: a collections building, where some 5.7 million items (1.2 million moving images, nearly 3 million sound recordings and 1.5 million related items such as manuscripts, posters and screenplays) will be housed under ideal conditions; a conservation building, where the collections will be acquired, managed and preserved; and a separate facility with 124 vaults where nitrate films, which require special conditions, will be stored safely. While the Packard Campus is a working facility, it will also feature a beautiful, Art Deco theater where films from the Library’s collections will be screened free to the public, two or three evenings a week beginning this winter. Silent films may be accompanied by music from a custom-made organ that can rise from a pit in the theater’s stage. The theater will be one of only a small handful in the United States that is capable of showing original nitrate films, along with 16mm, 35mm, 70mm and “digital cinema.” The state-of-the-art facility will feature new conservation technologies and processes, many of which were created specifically for the Library of Congress. For instance, a technology known as IRENE (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.) will create digital audio files by taking high-resolution images of fragile or damaged grooved media such as the earliest phonograph records. A robotic system called SAMMA (System for the Automated Migration of Media Assets) will automatically create preservation-quality digital files from cassette-based media, working day and night and thus vastly improving preservation throughput and efficiencies. It is expected that the Packard Campus will produce approximately two petabytes (2,000 terabytes) of digital content in its first year of operation, increasing to an annual rate of three to five petabytes when additional, planned systems are brought online. Put another way, if you were to store two petabytes of data on CD-ROMs, each holding 700mb, you would have a stack of discs reaching approximately two-and-a-quarter miles into the sky. New integrated business processes are also expected to dramatically increase efficiency. Film printing and processing capacity will soon triple from the Library’s current capabilities, with expansion room to quadruple the current amount, while also allowing the Library to preserve color films for the first time. Researchers in the Library of Congress’s Motion Picture and Recorded Sound reading rooms on Capitol Hill will be able to see or hear derivative copies of the digital files via high-speed, fiber-optic connections from Culpeper. The Packard Campus will also have an on-site facility for scholars who need to conduct lengthier and more intensive research. The collections vaults at the Packard Campus were repurposed from a previous underground facility used by the Federal Reserve Bank system for currency storage and continuity-of-government. Much of the new campus is also underground, covered by a sprawling “green roof.” The campus is undergoing a major reforestation effort with the planting of 9,000 trees and nearly 200,000 indigenous plants. Library of Congress audio-visual conservation information can be found online at https://www.loc.gov/avconservation/. Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, with more than 134 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. As the world’s largest repository of knowledge and creativity, the Library is a symbol of democracy and the principles on which this nation was founded. Today the Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its 21 reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning Web site at www.loc.gov. Established in 1987 and located in Los Altos, Calif., PHI is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to archaeology, music, film preservation, historic conservation and early education. Before PHI was created, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation made grants to support some of these same activities. The Architect of the Capitol is responsible to the United States Congress for the maintenance, operation, development and preservation of the United States Capitol Complex, which includes the Capitol, the congressional office buildings, the Library of Congress buildings, the Supreme Court building, the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Capitol Power Plant and other facilities.