MSU acquires "largest U.S. media collection," thanks to California-based Rovi

This is seriously huge news for archivists of all stripes. 850,000 CDs, video games and movies have been donated to the MSU library. The Rovi Media Collection is impressive in its size and scope, and instantly makes MSU a magnet for all kinds of popular culture research. 

News out of the Rovi camp (which owns All Music Guide and All Movie Guide, among other things) in the last year or so has not been super positive — from multiple layoffs of workers, to their loss in the Netflix lawsuit, and the state of their stock price. So anything that puts a good gloss on their corporate citizenship is a good thing. Rovi's local headquarters are based in the Pittsfield Charter Township, right outside of A2 — and most who work there live in either Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti.

Here is to hoping that academics can have at least some limited access to the materials, as well! 

In the following press release posted to their website today, MSU announced the acquisition. Looks like we just missed the ribbon-cutting ceremony:

Bad-hair 1990s movies. Obscure CDs only music lovers can name. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

They’ve arrived at Michigan State University as part of a rare collection of more than 850,000 movies, CDs and videogames, a donation from California-based Rovi Corp.

The Rovi Media Collection, which is housed in the main MSU library, is the largest media collection held by a library in the United States, and is essential for faculty and student research.

“This gift-in-kind will vault the MSU Libraries into the top echelon of audio-visual holdings,” said Clifford Haka, director of MSU Libraries. “MSU is extremely honored to receive this donation, which will dramatically enhance our classes within the College of Music, popular culture and film studies and an emerging gaming curriculum.”

The archive consists of CDs that have been commercially available in the United States since the early 1990s and includes some releases imported from Europe. The DVD collection, which was started the year DVDs were introduced, similarly represents the vast majority of commercially released DVDs in the United States. The games archive focuses primarily on console games and PC from 1993 to 2014 and includes a few titles dating back to the early ‘80s.

Haka said video games are the most rare materials of the collection, as research libraries have only just begun to collect them.

The Rovi Media Collection also includes more than 1,000 cabinets to store the media and a catalog of metadata elements, about 10 to 20 million data points. Metadata, or data that describe other data (such as author and date created), make it easier to find, use or manage an information resource.

Material from the collection is available to the MSU community through the MSU Libraries catalog and to Michigan residents through MeLCat, the Michigan e-library catalog. Users may check out material for a week and if lost or damaged, they will be charged to replace it.

“The Rovi video and music collections will provide unprecedented access to citizens across the state of Michigan,” Haka said. “This is not without considerable processing costs at the MSU Libraries, but it is a tremendous service to offer in the spirit of the land-grant mission.”

Within the next year, MSU Libraries plans to build gaming rooms, working with MSU game design faculty. It also plans to seek grant funds to hire more librarians to complete metadata tagging.

“Rovi’s extensive collection of entertainment media has enabled the cataloging, metadata tagging and editorial description of numerous albums, artists, movies, TV shows and video games for our customers worldwide,” said Kathy Weidman, senior vice president and general manager, metadata, Rovi. “Our donation to MSU marks the passing of these materials for use in an educational capacity, while also providing accessibility to the general public. It is extremely gratifying to establish the largest collection of entertainment content in a U.S. library and allow future generations to access and enjoy these wonderful media artifacts from the past two decades.”

MSU Libraries and Rovi Corp. will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. today in the West Wing of the MSU Library. Media are welcome to attend the free public event. A reception will follow the ribbon cutting and will be held in The Green Room, West Wing, Fourth Floor.

Mike McGonigal

Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...
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