Navajo Rug Weaving (1938–39)

Early documentary by Southwest photographer Tad Nichols, preserved by Northern Arizona University with NFPF support.

The Film Preservation Guide
The Basics for Archives, Libraries, and Museums

Overview  |  Acknowledgments  |   |  Download PDF

2004, 121 pages. Illustrations, appendices, bibliography, glossary, index
  • 2005 Preservation Publication Award Society of American Archivists

For many libraries, museums, and archives the hardest step in preserving film collections is getting started. The Film Preservation Guide is designed for these organizations. It introduces film preservation to nonprofit and public institutions that have collections of motion picture film but lack information about how to take care of them. Written and produced by the National Film Preservation Foundation, the book is a primer for “beginners”—professionals trained in archival studies, librarianship, museum work, or history but unschooled in this technical specialty.

The guide grew from user workshops at Duke University and the Minnesota Historical Society. At the sessions, beginners talked with technical experts about what they needed to know in order to preserve and make available their film collections. "Keep it simple!" was the watchword of the discussions.

Following this advice, the guide describes methods for handling, duplicating, making available, and storing film that are practical for research institutions with limited resources. It is organized in chapters tracing the path of film through the preservation process, from acquisition to exhibition, and includes case studies, photo-illustrations prepared by the staff of George Eastman House, charts, 10-page glossary, bibliography, and index.

The Film Preservation Guide was made possible through the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the contribution of scores of preservationists. The publication has been translated into Chinese, Farsi, Japanese, Korean, and Thai and is used by film archivists around the world.

Free copies of the illustrated publication can be downloaded as a PDF file.