Archive for preservation and conservation

the enduring suspense of Suspiria

Posted in Library Science stuff, Popular Culture, Film with tags , , , , , on June 22, 2017 by phanteana

one of the joys of being an archivist is discovering copies of materials that were thought to either be lost or damaged. for those in the film archives industry, it means bringing new life to a movie that has previously been screened by audiences, but perhaps missing essential footage or dialogue. such a breakthrough occurred recently at an abandoned movie theater in Italy, whose storage room harbored an uncut 35mm print of Dario Argento‘s Suspiria¬†that hasn’t seen the light of day since its initial release nearly 40(!) years ago. the print was discovered by the Chicago Cinema Society, and after careful inspection appears to be in excellent condition (always a plus when handling rare materials). in fact, this version of the film is in such great condition that it will be embarking on a mini-tour of the US in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, and Seattle (the CCS website lists dates and locations). so if you’re in or near any of the above metro areas, are a fan of horror/foreign cinema, or simply looking for something different to do, this is your opportunity to see Suspiria on the big screen! hooray for film archivists and their valiant efforts to save movies!


…and since Hollywood loves to reboot classics, that long-brewing remake is finally unveiling its “secret” “irises” on the Internet. two elements that have (hopefully) eased the anxiety of long-time fans are that the new version is not set in modern times, and original star Jessica Harper is among the cast. Ms. Harper (who i’ve met, and is a lovely lady with a wonderful sense of humor) is also known for appearing in the film that inspired a considerable portion of my WordPress, so she can clearly do no wrong. ūüôā


{author’s note: i admit i haven’t seen too many of Argento’s films. but of the ones i have viewed, my favorite is Phenomena}.

hey, Beastmaster’s (still) on

Posted in Film, Library Science stuff with tags , , , , , on June 8, 2017 by phanteana


as technology and media continue to advance forward in new formats, the VHS tape still lingers as a reminder of the past (especially since HBO isn’t showing Beastmaster ad nauseum anymore) thanks to organizations like the VHSPS. but the folks at VHSPS aren’t the only ones working hard to preserve the life span of videotapes; meet the XFR Collective, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving at-risk A/V media through digitization services and education.

according to a recent interview with NPR, the life span of a videotape is decreasing, thus resulting in a “magnetic media crisis“. most VHS tapes typically don’t last more than 15 years (i managed to hold onto a copy of this gem for 13 years before it set sail for the Grey Havens). this is where the fine folks of the XFR Collective come in to reverse the aging process. it can be painstaking work, but it’s also a labor of love as many of these archivists, technicians, and librarians grew up with VHS tapes and are fighting the good fight to see them continue to bring joy to nostalgia-obsessed audiences everywhere…and while it might not have the same effect as it did 30 years ago, we can still say “hey, Beastmaster‘s on.”


Image result for hbo hey beastmaster's on meme

“hey, we’ll still be on!”

a lending library of coziness

Posted in Library Science stuff with tags , , , , , , on March 29, 2017 by phanteana

ever go to the library in the summertime to escape the heat and cool off with a good book, only to be frozen by the air-conditioning? or maybe you’ve ducked in during the winter, but are still shivering from the outside elements. some libraries offer coffee¬†(just don’t drink it near the computers) to perk up their chilly patrons, while others provide free lunches to kids during summer vacation. then there’s the Folger Shakespeare Library¬†in Washington DC, whose staff have taken to lending hand-knitted shawls to researchers spending hours in the library’s reading room. since temperatures have to be kept at a certain level in the reading room to protect the rare books, patrons are prone to feel a bit cold. but the shawls, designed by the room’s Head of Circulation, will help keep them nice and cozy.

the Dischord Records archive project (aka a music nerd’s dream)

Posted in Library Science stuff, Music with tags , , , , , , on September 22, 2016 by phanteana

Washington DC may be the Nation’s Capital, but it’s also home to a long-storied punk and hardcore scene courtesy of Dischord Records. huge stacks of lore have been written about bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and even the humble beginnings of Monica Richards¬†before she became everyone’s favorite Muse, thus providing fans and musicologists with a plethora of information. with that said, Dischord recently posted on its website an internship opportunity that is too good to pass up for current MLIS students or recent graduates. that’s correct…a chance to assist with cataloging, preserving, and creating finding aids for manuscript collections with a legendary independent label. applicants must be local to DC, and have some familiarity with Punk music¬†(though both of these are kind of a given). as far as internships go, this definitely ranks high on the list of awesome ones.


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HR would apply for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (if he were in an MLIS program)


map? i remember the mountain well enough without it.

Posted in Art & Photography, Library Science stuff, Popular Culture with tags , , , , on May 6, 2016 by phanteana

are you¬†traveling¬†from Hobbiton to Rivendell? in need of a little assistance? well, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University has recently acquired a map of Middle-Earth for its Tolkien collection. this fictional setting map went unseen for decades until a book shop put it on display with an asking price of 60,000 pounds (equivalent to $87K). the map’s designer, Pauline Baynes, worked with Tolkien in 1949 as he was knee-deep in composing his most famous trilogy. there are annotated notes from Tolkien to Baynes, stating where certain areas should be located (for example, Hobbiton is “at the latitude of Oxford”). to the citizens of Oxford, Mr. Tolkien was a hometown legend as he spent much of his adult life there.


to answer the questions above, simply take the green line (see below). but mind the gap.





walk, walk, walkman on heaven’s door

Posted in Library Science stuff, Popular Culture with tags , , , , on March 30, 2016 by phanteana

if you’ve ever wondered what to do with that old Walkman, the first thought that probably comes to mind would be to toss it or donate it. but archivists at the National Film & Sound Archive, located in Canberra, Australia, have different plans for outdated technology: preserving it.

the NFSA’s¬†shelves contain an endless array of devices ranging from phonographs to the I-Pod Nano. the majority of the items in this collection were at one point owned by various consumers, who eventually retired them in favor of more modern pieces. as those of us who are familiar with preservation and conservation concepts know, temperature storage is key when it comes to maintaining any kind of physical record. room temperature at NSFA is kept at 18 degrees C (around 64 degrees F), which is relatively comfortable.

obviously, one reason the staff are archiving these relics is because they, like many other records, tell a story. in addition, just because the Walkman hasn’t been popular since the 1990’s, it doesn’t mean it still can’t play those cassettes we forgot we owned.




you’re on candid camera!

Posted in Art & Photography, Popular Culture with tags , , on March 22, 2016 by phanteana

back in ancient times before the camera phone became ubiquitous (ok, not THAT long ago), we all took pictures the old-fashioned way with actual cameras, and had to wait days or even weeks for the rolls to develop. granted, there are still folks who would rather capture moments in the traditional manner. but the days of Fotomat are long behind us, so standard film processing options have become fewer due in part to the fast capabilities of the camera phone.

just about everyone has found undeveloped film rolls laying around their apartment/house at some point, wondering what was on them and fearing if they get it developed that it might contain awkward or risque pictures.¬†do they toss the rolls, or do they fork over the money to see what’s on them? that’s where¬†Levi Bettwieser steps in. Bettwieser is a photographer from Boise, ID who was inspired¬†by all these lost film rolls to create a website called The Rescued Film Project. the majority of the shots are of vacations, birthday parties, pets, and other typical photo ops. sometimes, Bettwieser finds more unique pieces like kids taking pictures of each other underwater and even images from WWII. many of the images have been shared online, though Bettwieser does take into account the privacy of the photo owners…so if you recognize yourself in a series of photos from the 90’s featuring Backstreet Boys (are they called Backstreet Men these days?)¬†posters plastered on the walls of your bedroom, you might want to law low for awhile.