Nashville library winning now and in the future - WSMV News 4

Nashville library winning now and in the future

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The Nashville Public Library is working to preserve its archives. (6-9-17) The Nashville Public Library is working to preserve its archives. (6-9-17)

The National Journal of Libraries has named Nashville’s downtown library the best in the nation.

Much of the library’s visual history is stored in boxes and on technology that’s outdated and no longer works. But a unique library program is working to change that.

Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at Fisk University and President Lyndon Johnson riding down Broadway are just some of the 50-year-old images library guests can still see.

But they won’t be around much longer without dramatic technology changes, which are now happening at the downtown library.

“Well it’s our history. It’s our history coming to life,” said Kelli Hix, an audio visual archivist at the library.

A major preservation project is now taking place in the basement of the library.

“Every single film is a mystery. We never really know what we’re going to find in every can,” Hix said.

The cans offer a clue to what’s on the film, but that’s just speculation.

“Nothing can really be confirmed until we look at it and really play it or digitize it,” Hix said.

It could be Nashville in the 1920s or the Parthenon just 20 years ago, but every bit of it is slowly deteriorating in a climate-controlled room.

Updating to new technology is the only way that history survives.

“I want my grandkids to be able to go to the Nashville Public Library and look something up on the computer and see it,” Hix said. “This isn’t going to be around for much longer, this VHS tape. It may have a couple of years left if we’re lucky. So if we don’t do something now it’s gone.”

Library Director Kent Oliver saw the importance of the archive project when few didn’t and went out on a limb to find the needed funding.

The National Journal of Libraries called Nashville a “literacy gladiator” for the way it promotes reading in schools and across the city.

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