IASA-AMIA 2010 conference

Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation

Packard campus

Set on a beautiful 45 acre campus with stunning architectural design and landscaping, the Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation is a state-of-the-art facility where the Library of Congress acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts, and sound recordings. The Campus has unprecedented capabilities and capacities for the preservation reformatting of audiovisual media and their long-term safekeeping in a petabyte-level digital storage archive. Technicians at the facility are currently installing off-air recording systems to enable off-broadcast, off-cable, and off-satellite capture of hundreds of channels of audiovisual content.

The physical description of the Campus is impressive —415,000 square feet, more than 90 miles of shelving for collections storage, 35 climate controlled vaults for sound recording, safety film, and videotape, 124 individual vaults for more flammable nitrate film. It is ideally designed for supporting the work of a professional staff of curators, librarians, archivists, a/v engineers, and systems technologists all dedicated to the acquisition, preservation, storage and access of audio-visual materials.

The Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation is located on 45-acres near Culpeper, Virginia, 75 miles southwest of Washington, DC near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The campus is built into the side of Mount Pony, the highest slope in Culpeper County, and features an adaptive reuse and expansion of a previously existing underground Federal Reserve Bank facility. Below are some highlights about the facility and its features:

  • Primarily underground with sod roofs blending into the existing contour lines; great care was taken to minimize the visual impact on the landscape
  • Only the Conservation Laboratory building appears from the hill in a semi-circular terraced arcade to allow natural light into the administrative and work areas
  • Largest private sector re-forestation project on the eastern seaboard (over 9000 trees planted and nearly 200,000 individual plantings)
  • 6.3 million collection items (1.2 million moving image, 3 million recorded sound, 2.1 supporting scripts, posters, photos, etc.)
  • State-of-the-art storage environment, including below-freezing for film masters
  • Nearly 90 miles of shelving for sound and moving image collections
  • 124 nitrate film vaults—the largest in the western hemisphere
  • Fully equipped to play back and preserve all antique film, video and sound formats
  • First archive to preserve digital content at the petabyte (1 million gigabyte) level
  • 200 seat theater capable of projecting both nitrate film and modern digital cinema, and featuring an organ rising from under the stage to accompany silent film screenings
  • Public listening auditorium for playback of all sound formats
  • High-speed fiber-optic connectivity between the Packard Campus and the Moving Image and Recorded Sound reading rooms on Capitol Hill
  • Digital access copies made during preservation process provide researchers with playback on demand in the reading rooms

The entire campus includes 415,000 square feet of useable space in four campus buildings:

  • Collections Storage Building for all recorded sound, safety film and video tape collections (135,000 SF)
  • Conservation Building for all staff and the sound, video and film reformatting laboratories (175,000 SF)
  • Nitrate Vaults built to exacting fire codes for the storage of pre-1951 films surviving on nitrate stock (55,000 SF)
  • Central Plant for mechanical, electrical and HVAC systems (50,000 SF)

Tour will include:

 - Moving Image and Recorded Sound physical processing and cataloging areas
                spaces designed specifically for A/V materials and equipment
- audio and video preservation areas
                SAMMA Systems for video digitization
                audio preservation suites
                high-throughput audio digitization suites
 - film preservation laboratory
                6 B&W processors online and operational
- sound and video storage vaults
                underground storage for 4 million A/V items
                compact mobile shelving
 - nitrate film storage vaults
                state of the art fire suppression systems
- safety film vaults
                color and master storage
- Data Center
                10 petabyte tape archive
                200 terabyte online disc storage

- Packard Campus Theater