Have You Heard The News  (International)

Elvis in brand new National Archives

More than 6 million film and recording artefacts � including footage of Elvis�s gyrations � have a new home on a hillside in this town southwest of Washington, D.C. The National Audio-Visual Conservation Centre was officially turned over to the Library of Congress on Thursday. The three-building complex brings together all the library's scattered recordings and conservation staff in a specially equipped centre for the first time. "It assures the permanent storage and preservation and heightened access to the audiovisual heritage of the last 110 years," said James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress.

A $155 million gift from David Woodley Packard, son of the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Co., and the Packard Humanities Institute, helped make the centre a reality. Congress appropriated $82 million for the project. The trove of 6.3 million items includes footage of Elvis's 1964 movie "Viva Las Vegas," the complete set of Ed Sullivan's variety shows and footage of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech after the Pearl Harbor attack. The oldest moving image in the collection is a five-second kinetoscope movie of a sneeze, made by Thomas Edison in 1894. The oldest sounds are on two wax cylinders produced by Chichester Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter in 1889. The library receives 120,000 gifts of film and sound a year. Mitch Miller, for example, just sent 200 boxes of 16mm copies of his TV program from the 1960s.

A key mission of the centre is to transfer unique historical images and sounds from fragile cylinders, tapes or films to digital files, which are less apt to deteriorate. The electronic versions also can be summoned by researchers at the Library of Congress buildings in Washington. The centre contains 415,000 square feet � about eight times the size of the White House. "The reason we spent so much money is that it required a lot of money. There wasn't any way to do it unless we were willing to make a large commitment," Packard told The Washington Post. "The storage facilities are better than the library has ever had in the past and better than some standards for preservation recommend," said Gregory Lukow, the centre's chief. The centre brings together materials that were once divided among centres on Capitol Hill and in Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Source: The Washington Post.

Posted:  29th. July 2007 

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