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Preservica future-proofs 100TB of Appalachian history with Berea College

Preservica selected as digital preservation partner for Berea’s unique traditional and folklore sound collection, one of the largest single sound collection uploads in the Cloud.

August 19, 2015

Preservica selected as digital preservation partner for Berea’s unique traditional and folklore sound collection, one of the largest single sound collection uploads in the Cloud

Oxford, UK and Berea, KY | 19 August 2015 | Berea College, a liberal arts college based in Kentucky, has chosen digital preservation partner, Preservica, to protect and make accessible its unique sound and video collection, documenting the history and culture of Berea College and Southern Appalachia. The 100 TB collection, which will be preserved in Preservica’s Cloud Edition hosted on Amazon Web Services, consists largely of sound and video documenting traditional music and mountain culture.

In 2015, after an extensive research and selection process, Berea selected Preservica as its partner of choice to help preserve its collection, and to make it publicly accessible. Preservica was chosen following an extensive review of several vendors, and was noted as being the most functional, flexible and economic solution, as well as the easiest to integrate with the archive’s existing IT ecosystem.

“The Preservica team is fantastic to work with, they have come up with a solution that works very well for our needs, and always have a variety of people to answer our questions,” says Rachel Vagts, Head of Special Collections and Archives at Berea. “We’re very excited about this project,” added Vagts. “We have such an extensive collection of unique sound and video, and it’s great that our students and the worldwide research community will be able to access it.”

The archives being preserved are all non-commercial – one of a kind, stored on a variety of now mostly obsolete formats. They document Appalachian history and culture, as well as the history of Berea College. The collection is especially strong in the areas of traditional music (banjo and fiddle for example), religious expression, spoken lore, radio programs, oral history, and College events and personalities. It includes field recordings from homes and churches by collector – scholars, local and regional folk festivals, student performances, presentations of notable scholars, preachers, and social activists who have visited Berea.

Featuring a full set of records dedicated to the work of the Appalachian Volunteers on the 1960s War on Poverty, the collection is a valuable record of Kentucky history. A powerful recollection of history, the collection also features historic photographic archives of Appalachian families stretching as far back as 1890.

The Berea sound and video collection is approaching 100TB in size. The large size of the collection is due to the inclusiveness of the files, many of which are sound files. Rather than deleting intervals between recital sound recordings to reduce file size, Berea has kept all files in their entirety in an effort to capture an end-to-end cultural experience, complete with background chatter from the audience. The video files were especially large files, with some files as big as 516 GB.

During the selection process of determining what would work well for Berea, it quickly emerged that Preservica was the most economical choice for the institution. “They have been a great technical resource that has not broken the bank,” says Vagts.

In addition, Preservica submitted a proof of concept document that met all of Berea’s requirements, including their cloud requirements, which would preserve the collection in the cloud and make it universally accessible to the wider research community.

To enable Berea to safely and rapidly move its collection to Preservica, AWS Import/Export is being used to move large amounts of data into the AWS Cloud. This is accomplished by using portable storage devices for transport and will enable the whole 100TB collection to be uploaded within weeks.

The finished solution will be available via Berea College Special Collections and Archives website, the objective being to share its fascinating history as widely as possible.

Preservica CEO Jon Tilbury comments: “Berea College pioneers the way forward for other educational institutions, and corporations, in the US and beyond, and this project is not only helping Berea, but also archivists around the world. It’s an amazing collection, and a fabulous piece of history for us to be helping to safeguard into the future.”

One example of the collection includes forty-eight acetate disc recordings made in the early 1940s that document Magoffin County, Kentucky fiddler and banjo player, John Morgan Salyer. Salyer was born in 1882 and was master of an older eastern Kentucky style that is only barely discernible in the playing of present day fiddlers and banjoists. The recordings were made by his sons Grover and Glen using a home disc-cutting machine. Many of his tunes have not been documented elsewhere.

Notes to the Media

About Berea College

Berea, the South’s first interracial and coeducational college, focuses on learning, labor, and service. Berea admits academically promising students, primarily from Appalachia, who have limited economic resources. No student is charged tuition. All students must work at least 10 hours weekly, earning money for books, room and board. Graduates from Berea go on to distinguish themselves and the College in many fields, living out the College's scriptural motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.”

Visit: Twitter: @bereacollege

About Preservica

Preservica is a world leader in digital preservation technology, consulting and research. Our active preservation solutions are used by leading businesses, archives, libraries, museums and government organizations globally, to safeguard and share valuable digital content, collections and electronic records, for decades to come. These include the European Commission, the Met Office, Texas State Archives and HSBC, to name a few.

Preservica invests in many research initiatives in digital preservation and is a well-respected member of international collaborations with academia, archives, libraries and corporations at the leading edge of this emerging field. It is part of Tessella group, the international analytics, software services and consultancy company.

Visit: Twitter: @preservica

PR Contact

Jennifer Reid,, +44 (0) 20 8296 1874 or +44 (0) 7920 012 356