Berea College Selects Preservica to Host Its Appalachian History Sound and Video Collection on AWS Cloud

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 will be preserved in Preservica’s Cloud Edition hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS Cloud).

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.

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To enable Berea College 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.

Preservica was chosen following an extensive review of several providers, and was noted as being the most functional, flexible and economic cloud hosting 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,” said 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.”

Moving Data to AWS Cloud 

The Berea College 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. 

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.

Berea College, 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.