Michigan State University

Starting on Thursday, December 23, 2021, MeLCat Borrowing and Lending will be suspended while the MSU Libraries undergoes a significant software transition.

MSU students, staff, and faculty can continue to utilize interlibrary loan by placing requests through the MSU Libraries Interlibrary Services department. Community patrons will not be able to use MeLCat through the MSU Libraries during this time, but they can continue to do so using their local public library.

Preservation Factors

In the short term, A/V preservationists and archivists are working to prevent machine-dependent "signal carriers" (e.g. magnetic tapes) from catastrophic loss. We do this by migrating their encoded information (recordings) to more stable digital file formats. In the long term, we steward these digital surrogates through preservation environments and future technology migrations.

Below are typical motivators for the advanced conservation and/or reformatting of A/V materials. 


Degradation – Physical decay of media objects (e.g. delaminating lacquer discs, shedding magnetic tapes) can, in time, lead to catastrophic loss. Improper storage, handling, and poor environmental conditions further exacerbate the inherent vice of unstable media. Therefore we migrate information off of these high-failure media carriers before it is permanently lost.

Examples of audio-visual media carrier degradation, including palmitic acid deposits on a lacquer disc surface, mold and spoking of magnetic tape, and CD-R dye migration
Carrier degradation (L-R): palmitic acid deposits on lacquer disc, acetate magnetic tape "spoking" (and mold), and CD-R dye migration.



Obsolescence – An inaccessible format is an irrecoverable content. For obsolete formats (e.g. wire recordings, DATs), access becomes more difficult as working playback equipment disappears, just as the supplies and expertise required to sustain these technologies become more obscure—and thus more prohibitively expensive.

Obsolete audio-visual media formats, including the MiniDisc, wire recording, and MiniDV digital video cassette
Format obsolescence (L-R): MiniDisc audio cartridge, wire audio recording, MiniDV digital video cassette.



Significance – This parameter is most consciously in step with larger institutional goals. Items and collections are typically identified by collection managers or curators as having too great a value—be it cultural, historical, or research value—to risk losing.

Use Access

Use & Access – Demands to access the item or collection (by patron, researcher, or donor request) are such that digitizing the content is determined to be the most prudent approach to easing access and mitigating stress on the original artifact.