Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Got Analog A/V? Floppies? RADD!!

Today's guest blogger is Dorothea Salo, Faculty Associate at the School of Library & Information Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Does your local archives, library, museum, or historical society have unique audiovisual (A/V) materials that need to be digitized for access and preservation? How about floppy disks you don't have a drive for?
There's a RADD solution for that!
Photo of RADD space with various electronic equipment.
RADD space (photo taken by Dorothea Salo)

Recovering Analog and Digital Data (RADD), in the Laboratory Library at the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) at UW-Madison, is a collection of equipment for digitizing audiovisual media such as:

* Audiocassettes, reel-to-reel tapes, and microcassettes
* VHS, Betamax, and U-Matic videotapes
* Mini-DV, Hi8, and Digital8 camcorder tapes

RADD can also capture data from several kinds of obsolete digital media, such as:

* 5.25" floppy disks
* 3.5" floppy disks
* Iomega Zip and Jaz disks

These and similar materials are at significant risk of partial or total information loss if not captured quickly. RADD's main builder, SLIS Faculty Associate Dorothea Salo, hopes RADD can improve access to the great backlog of at-risk A/V media representing much of Wisconsin's 20th- and early 21st-century cultural heritage.

"I know there's tons of it tucked away in Wisconsin libraries and archives," said Salo of analog A/V materials, "and I also know it's incredibly expensive to outsource and really hard to do anything with in-house. For a lot of this material, it's RADD or nothing, and I'd rather it be RADD."

The project has captured interest in Madison. The local weekly paper Isthmus featured it in an April story http://www.isthmus.com/news/news/compost-old-media/ and Madison Magazine honored it as a social innovation in its 2015 "M-List" issue

Salo is actively seeking libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies with unique Wisconsin A/V collections to partner with for LSTA and other grants. She is also interested in smaller collections that could be digitized as SLIS classwork, or as a practicum for individual SLIS students. Institutions lucky enough to afford to pay for digitization are welcome to contact Salo for RADD's standard ratesheet.

Opportunities to train working professionals on A/V digitization and digital-media capture techniques are also welcome. "My ultimate dream is making portable mini-RADDs to ship out into the field, and teaching people how to build their own and use them," said Salo. "Some of this equipment can't possibly be shipped -- a U-Matic player weighs something like 40 pounds -- but a lot of it is pretty light, pretty small."

Salo can be contacted at salo@wisc.edu with potential projects or equipment donations. RADD news and documentation can currently be browsed at http://radd.dsalo.info/.

Written by:
Dorothea Salo, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison