A nonprofit battles the ‘magnetic media crisis’ by digitizing aging movies before they vanish

(October 3, 2018)

In a narrow, windowless, closet of an office in Seattle’s City Hall, two young women are battling against the “magnetic media crisis.”

That’s because the Hi8 home movies, VHS recordings and Betacam cassettes from decades ago are approaching the end of their lifetime — if they’re not already past it — and starting to fall apart. One of the biggest threats is an ailment called “sticky shed syndrome” where the glue that holds the components of the magnetic tape together breakdown, and the recorded images and sound are lost forever.

Enter MIPoPS.  The 3-year-old nonprofit is focused on preserving videos and films from government agencies, university departments, museums and arts organizations, and religious groups. MIPoPS is led by Rachel Price. For the Hilbert project, which started this year and will finish in 2020, the team has secured grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.