VFH has launched a project to digitize and preserve the thousands of valuable assets it has produced in its forty year history, ranging from rare musical recordings to oral histories and grant-funded films. Called Discovery Virginia, this institutional repository will give users a single web-based point of access to digital content across its programs. A major part of this project is the preservation of audio and video content stored on old media and in danger of being lost forever.
A good example of this kind of material are the performances and interviews with Blues musician John Cephas from the Virginia Piedmont Guitarists Tour of 1992. This one of a kind material featuring some of Virginia’s finest blues masters was the subject of our call for action last year. The short film provides a graphic illustration of how digital material can degrade over time.
Under the direction of project manager Sue Perdue, staff is inventorying content across VFH and even further afield in offsite storage. The building of a technical platform that ensures long term preservation of these newly digitized assets is also underway.
What might you find at Discovery Virginia when it’s up and running at the start of next year? You’ll find videos of book festival events, audio recordings of musicians such as John Cephas, past episodes of radio shows, and many other irreplaceable recordings and videos. Consider it just one more way that VFH provides Virginians of all ages with new opportunities to engage with their state’s history and culture.