"Did you RTFM?": The Challenges of Developing and Maintaining an In-House AV Unit




Gunner, Nat
Zoghlin, Natasha
Glazier, Aryn

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Texas Digital Library


Critical to the efforts of digitization and preservation are working machines for audiovisual material. Without maintained equipment, AV media is unplayable and un-transferable, resulting in a serious loss of archival information. The Briscoe Center has identified a widening gap in knowledge and availability of effective repair and maintenance work on this legacy equipment, and has begun developing a knowledge base focusing on this work.

At the beginning of 2024, after multiple open-reel decks were identified as having various issues preventing them from working in good condition, as well as the unreliability of local repair services, we began to collect information and documentation that might shine a light on how to repair these machines. We have called on resources including other AV archivists and specialists, enthusiast forums, and whatever manuals we can acquire to understand maintenance as simple as cleaning, all the way up to knowing the ins-and-outs of the machines we use.

However, scholarship in this area is thin, and resources for learning these skills are increasingly limited. Our policy has shifted from just learning the skills to collecting any and all forms of information related to playback equipment. This includes the aforementioned resources, and also any playback gear whether it is broken or not so that we can have a full picture of the equipment that exists. Through this we aim to provide knowledge to the community of AV specialists and generate questions that further develop our understanding of this looming threat to cultural heritage.


TCDL 2024 Session 2C, Wednesday, 5/22/2024, 9:00 am to 10:00 am | Moderated by Joseph Pruett, Angelo State University | Presentation | Digital Collections