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Moving Image Research Center (Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division
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Magnetic Recording Laboratory

The Laboratory Services Section of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (M/B/RS) reformats audio, video and film media in the collections of the Library of Congress. The Lab produces re-mastered materials for preservation as well access copies for reference use. Additionally, the Lab staff records live Library events, including concerts and poetry readings, for the Library's collections. To supplement the Library's television broadcast collection, selected programs are recorded off-cable to provide access copies for researchers in the Division's Moving Image Research Center. Another on-going television collection project involves the re-recording of thousands of reels of 2" quadruplex videotape, including a substantial Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) collection

The Lab continues to preserve such treasures as the NBC Radio Collection, Voice of America recordings of the Newport Jazz Festival, and numerous other important and unique collections on a wide variety of obsolete and/or unstable formats (these include twelve and sixteen-inch instantaneous lacquer discs, acetate tape stock, and a number of obsolete video and audio formats). Additionally, the Special Formats area of the Lab reformats wax cylinders and wire recordings, making significant historical materials like a collection of wire recordings of survivors of WWII concentration camps accessible to researchers for the first time.

This is a critical period for audio and video preservation, because the magnetic tape industry is evolving toward other medias even as it continues to diversify tape formats. The needs of access, distribution, production, and preservation all require astute planning in order to accomplish the responsible care of the Nation's sound and video collections here at the Library of Congress. Because the collections are vast and the formats so varied, M/B/RS recognizes that future needs will require us to combine analog recording technology with digital storage and distribution systems. Towards satisfying those needs, the Library's Preservation Directorate is assisting the Lab in the installation of a new analytical facility for determining media, equipment, and procedures for audio preservation.

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  March 10, 2022
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