Erica Titkemeyer | Movers & Shakers 2019 – Digital Developers

As an undergrad working on a student documentary film about their deceased grandfather’s World War II experiences, Erica Titkemeyer discovered his oral history interview in a library’s special collections. “It was really a transformative experience when an MP3 was sent to me and I was able to hear his voice,” Titkemeyer says.

Erica Titkemeyer

CURRENT POSITION

Project Director & Audiovisual Conservator, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

DEGREE

MA, Moving Image Archiving & Preservation, New York University, 2013

FOLLOW

@etitkem; library.unc.edu/wilson/sfc/audiovisual-preservation; library.unc.edu/2018/08/mellon-sfc; mellon.org/resources/shared-experiences-blog/no-time-radio-silence-audio-visual-media-preservation/; github.com/UNC-Libraries/jitterbug

Photo by Jay Mangum

MS_logo_300x81

Futureproofing Formats

As an undergrad working on a student documentary film about their deceased grandfather’s World War II experiences, Erica Titkemeyer discovered his oral history interview in a library’s special collections. “It was really a transformative experience when an MP3 was sent to me and I was able to hear his voice,” Titkemeyer says.

Now that thrill of discovery drives Titkemeyer in leading efforts to digitize and preserve audio and video recordings at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC–CH). “While I’m motivated by the research value of the recordings we work with, it’s patron discoveries similar to my own that encourage me,” they say.

Prior to 2014, when Titkemeyer was hired, UNC–CH held more than 50,000 audio recordings, 6,500 video recordings, and eight million feet of motion picture film in need of preservation. Titkemeyer’s expertise with obsolete analog formats, including audiocassettes, open reel audiotape, VHS, Betacam, and 16mm film, combined with their leadership skills, made them uniquely qualified for the “gargantuan task” of leading the effort to preserve and catalog these items, says nominator Steven Weiss, curator of UNC–CH’s Southern Folklife Collection. “Erica works with departments across the university libraries like a conductor of a symphony orchestra,” Weiss says. “They are gifted at bringing together the full range of stakeholders and divergent skill sets to create a complex integrated work flow ranging from accessioning [formally acquiring and adding material, including provenance] to online streaming.”

Funded by a $1.75 million Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, Titkemeyer’s team developed Jitterbug, an open source, web-based audiovisual materials database management system that interacts with the library’s catalog, allowing for discovery, as well as making it easier to catalog and track each item. As a result, the team of eight digitizes, preserves, and streams about 700 audio items a month, a 138 percent increase.

When writing the Mellon proposal, Titkemeyer’s team realized they had an opportunity to work with small cultural heritage institutions in North Carolina to preserve their audio and video holdings as well. They expanded the grant to include other museums and libraries. “In the end we hope to contribute to the preservation of the state’s audiovisual legacy,” Titkemeyer says.

So far, the team has preserved recordings of Cherokee Language Project lessons, presidents’ speeches, and interviews with black artists, civil rights historians, and musicians, including Elizabeth Cotten, Buddy Holly, and John Lee Hooker. Says Titkemeyer, “My hope is that these new collections can allow researchers to investigate facets of our history through a more diverse lens.”

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

TOP STORIES

LIBRARY EDUCATION

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COMMUNITY FORM

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month