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University of Delaware

Preserving Out-of-Print VHS Titles

Library, Museums and Press Take Steps to Make Obsolete Technology Accessible

The last VCR was manufactured in 2016. Without the technology to watch them, educational films, movies, documentaries and other works available only on VHS are at risk of being lost forever.

To help preserve these research materials, the UD Library, Museums and Press has become a founding benefactor of the Academic Libraries Video Trust (ALVT). Through the ALVT—the first cooperative of its kind—member libraries make out-of-print VHS materials more accessible by uploading digital copies to the repository.

Once uploaded, the digital copy is accessible to other member libraries that once owned the title or have a version in poor condition. The service allows libraries to replace works in obsolete formats in their collections, pursuant to Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act.

Many key educational titles have not migrated to DVD or streaming formats due to rights issues. At UD, professors continue to rely on VHS titles from the Film & Video Collection, but incorporating them into courses has become more challenging with the removal of VCRs from teaching spaces. Through the ALVT, the Library can provide better access to many of the more than 6,000 titles in the VHS collection.

“An important role for academic libraries is to make sure intellectual content survives into the future,” Meghann Matwichuk, associate librarian and coordinator of the Film & Video Collection, explained. “I’m excited that the UD Library, Museums and Press will be taking this step. The ALVT will allow librarians to maintain continued access to culturally important out-of-print films, enabling instructors to teach with the best-quality images possible.”

For further information, please visit: https://www.videotrust.org

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