Librarian of Congress James Billington has said that “Only by storing films in a low temperature and low humidity environment can nature’s decay process be slowed.”
I’d like to take that statement one step further, by suggesting that if public and private film archives were to invest more in their facilities and less in duplication efforts, they would be able to save a greater number of titles.
What this means is that monies allocated for such things as nitrate conversion and the cataloging of that film collection be put off until the storage envrionment can be improved, and hopefully brought up to the ANSI standards of IT19.11.
This may be considered heresy by some in the preservation community, but it really is the bottom line for any long-term preservation effort.
Billington recognizes that the emphasis must be shifted to proper storage conditions. One of his recommendations is that the improvement of storage conditions be the “cornerstone” of a national film preservation policy and an integral part of federal funding programs.
“By improving storage conditions and copying selectively, we can extend the useful life of a greater number and variety of films,” Billington said. “Costs for the construction of storage facilities and their operations are admittedly large, but such expenditures nevertheless can maximize each preservation dollar.” Read more!