Published: Sept. 7, 2021

The University Libraries Rare and Distinctive Collections and the Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts (CINE) will explore curriculum-building for a CU Boulder certificate program focused on media archiving and preservation geared towards undergraduate students. 

A three-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services will support this cross collaboration, introducing Cinema Studies students to the libraries’ continuing acquisition of historic media and archival footage. 

“This would be one of the only programs of its kind in the country that’s geared toward undergraduate students,” Sabrina Negri, an assistant professor in CINE said. 

Programs that teach media archiving and preservation skills are limited to graduate students and offered by private universities located in major U.S. cities on the east and west coasts. CU Boulder would be the only public university to offer this type of program in the midwest and Rocky Mountain region, making this field of study accessible to more populations.

“By developing this model at a public university in Colorado, we are in some ways establishing a model that could be picked up by other public universities nationwide,” Jamie Wagner, moving image archivist with the University Libraries said. 

Fast-paced evolutions in technology, particularly the transition from tape to digital media formats, has introduced a need for more media to be archived and more archivists and conservators to gain hands-on experience working with audio and visual materials. 

There is a growing need for cultural heritage institutions to work with individuals with both a theoretical and practical understanding of why and how to care for and preserve historical materials. 

“Students [will] not only learn about media archiving in the classroom, but [will] gain real professional experience working with the CU Libraries' collections, and they use these skills to directly benefit at-risk cultural heritage material throughout the Front Range area,” said Wagner.

Megan Friedel, head of archives and interim co-lead of Rare and Distinctive Collections with the University Libraries, says this campus collaboration furthers the University Libraries Archives’ mission to engage students with archival collections through instruction, research, and hands-on experiences that can prepare students for future careers working with archival film collections. 

“We are excited to be able to play a role in developing a new generation of preservationists who understand the role that film plays in archival documentation of our shared heritage,” Friedel said. 

Next spring, undergraduate students can enroll in Cinema Studies course offerings in media archiving and preservation. The libraries will also be developing paid media preservation fellowships for undergraduate students working with the libraries’ moving image archival collections and digital media lab. 

A community-oriented internship program pairing CU Boulder undergraduate students with under-resourced institutions and organizations that have media preservation needs for their own historical materials will be piloted in Fall 2022.

“A program like this could be a very nice feather in the cap for the university,” said Negri.