Initiative works to preserve university history



From her office at 10th Street and the Bypass, Laurie Antolovic can see the construction of the IU Innovation Center, which will soon be home to the Media Digitization and Preservative Initiative.

At his 2013 State of the University address, President Michael McRobbie revealed the initiative, otherwise known as the MDPI.

The initiative has two objectives, according to its website.

One, to preserve the University’s mass amounts of both cultural and historical artifacts and two, to make them accessible to the present and future community.

These pieces of media include audio, film, music and photography from the early days of the University, which the initiative is trying to preserve and make available for the public.

Currently, the initiative is focusing on locating playback equipment to make the process easier and preserving audio and video files specifically, Executive Director of MDPI Laurie Antolovic said.

In December 2014, IU joined with Memnon Archiving Services to launch a massive digitization operation in the IU Bloomington Tech Park.

The Tech Park is located near Memorial Stadium and brings together the University’s information technology resources, according to the Innovate ?Indiana website.

Memnon Archiving Services is a Belgium-based company located in ?Brussels.

In choosing this company, the leaders of the initiative said they feel as though they’ve chosen the best in the business.

Antolovic works closely with Memnon in hopes to have the operation up and running by March 2015 in order to finish the project by December 2019, which is the projected end date.

“We have engaged a private partner who is experienced in plural digitization methods,” Antolovic said. “This is unprecedented. We don’t know of any other university that is doing media digitization to this scale. In terms of technical capacity, they were just the best to do it.”

The new Innovation Center will house the equipment needed to process and digitize about 10 percent of the 600,000 pieces of media that are hoped to be on the web in 15 years, Antolovic said.

The initiative has run into several setbacks that are based on the business end of the project, Antolovic said, but it doesn’t stop there.

“Much of this media has players that are no longer being produced,” Antolovic said. “The only thing you can do is buy old, used ones that are hopefully still working.”

Antolovic said she is confident that Memnon can help manage the task with their extensive ?experience.

Owner and operator of Axis Apparel in Bloomington, Logan Keith, said he is worried about IU’s ?outsourcing.

He said that he believes that there are certainly people who can locally contribute to the massive task instead of choosing someone from outside IU or Bloomington.

Keith is also an IU alumnus and graduated from Kelley School of Business in 2012.

Keith said he hopes that in the process, IU will reach out to more students and staff across campus to help with the large media and digital preservation initiative.

“The more history is preserved and celebrated, that’s just another thread of community,” Keith said.

Julianne Bobay is the associate dean for Collection Development and Scholarly Communications at IU Libraries.

Bobay is confident in the project and its willingness to involve the students as well as outsource to larger, well-equipped companies.

“Memnon will be hiring a staff to do the digitization, and I imagine some of those staff will be students,” Bobay said. “In addition, there is a second facility that is run by IU. They will be hiring staff to do the more difficult formats.”

The IU Innovation Center will help bridge the gap between the Memnon and the students at IU who wish to be a part of the ?initiative.

“We are making it easy for the IU community and even the outside community to discover what we actually have and to make use of it,” Antolovic said.

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