After weeks of research, interviews, a site visit, bouncing ideas off of my mentors, and procurement hiccups, we’re finally buying things for the Memory Lab.
The A/V Workstation will be used to transfer media formats such as VHS, miniDV and audio-cassette to disc, USB, social media or cloud storage. Although I considered professional grade A-D converters such as Black Magic DeckLink 4K Extreme, I found their costs prohibitive and their software a bit complex for the average library patron. I chose the Honestech VHS to DVD 7.0 Deluxe because it’s been on the market for a while and has a good reputation, it’s easy to use, has robust capture formats (including Blu ray), and accompanying software that supports one-click wizard transfer and publishing options to social media platforms and cloud storage. For more advanced post-capture edits, patrons will be directed to one of the Digital Commons workstations outfitted with Adobe Creative Suite.
Other things: Audacity, Floppy drive
The Photo Workstation will be used for the digitization of photographic materials and documents to disc, USB, or cloud storage. Wanting to give patrons access to professional-level equipment, we chose the Epson 11000XL Photo Scanner. This scanner includes a transparency lid for digitizing slides and negatives, can batch scan files, and includes elements like the AutoFocus Optics system and one-touch color restoration.
For cases where patrons want to convert digital pictures to analog for storage or re-purposing, we’re buying the Canon Pixma iP110. Both compact (it will fit in the A/V rack) and portable , it creates high quality prints at 9600 x 2400 dpi and can print directly from camera phones or digital cameras.
Other things: Picasa
A Lesson in Procurement
Besides the challenges of dealing with obsolete equipment (see Week 3), there’s also challenges inherent to the way purchasing works through the DC government. As it turns out, they don’t like for you to buy things off of Ebay (which is where the majority of this equipment is sold), and they’d prefer it be from a Certified Business Enterprise Contractor. I’m all for supporting small, minority-owned businesses in our community, and it would help the lab’s sustainability if we could form relationships with local vendors. BUT the directory is…… not very user-friendly. Because there are 1096 contractors, it made sense for me to search based on what I wanted to buy. The system is such that you can’t type in “VHS player” and get a list of contractors that sell them. You’ve got to go to the list of NIGP codes, do your keyword search there, and then use the corresponding codes back on the contractor page. If that wasn’t enough, the codes need some controlling for realz.
After 4 hours of searching, I found 1 appropriate contractor. Hmph.
What We’re Buying (Round 1)
|Product type||#||Product name||Vendor|
|Audio-Cassette Deck||1||Teac W-890RmkII Double Auto-Reverse Dual Cassette Deck||B&H|
|Protection Plan||1||Square Trade Protection Plan – 3 Years||B&H|
|External Floppy Drive||1||Sabrent 1.44MB External USB 2X Floppy Disk Drive||B&H|
|Rack||1||CFR2136 36U AV Rack||B&H|
|Time-Based Corrector||1||DataVideo TBC-3000 Time Base Corrector||TGP Sales|
|VHS Deck (Professional)||1||Panasonic AG 1980P 4-head VCR||TGP Sales|
|S-Video cable male to male||1||S-Video male to male cable||TGPSales|
|Scanner||1||Epson 11000 XL- Photo Scanner||Epson|
|wipes||1||KIMTECH® Kimwipes® (280-Pack)||Gaylord|
|gloves||1||Microflex® XCEED® 3 mil Nitrile Gloves MEDIUM (250-Pack)||Gaylord|
|swabs||1||Assorted Foam Swabs (36-Pack)||Gaylord|
|compressed air can||1||Pressurized air duster||Gaylord|
|DVD duplicator||1||Reflex7 CD/DVD Duplicator||Disc Makers|
|DUP010-00552 – Reflex7 CD/DVD with USB 2.0|
|WAR001-00116 – 1 yr Extended Warranty-Reflex7 DVD/CD|
|Printer||1||Cannon Pixma iP110||Canon|
|Warranty||CarePAK Plus (3 Yr.)||Canon|
|Headphones||2||Maxell HP/NC-II Noise Cancellation Headphone||Laser Art|
|UPS||2||APC Back-UPS 550V||Laser Art|
|A-D Converter||3||Honestech VHS to DVD 7*||Amazon|
|VHS-C Adaptor||1||Gigaware VHS-C Adapter||Amazon|
|MiniDV Player||1||Sony DSR-40 DVCAM / DV / MiniDV VTR Player/Recorder||Amazon|
|Applique||2||Frosted temporary applique||Signs by Tomorrow|
Building a Vendor Relationship
We’ve going to try out TGP Sales as our go-to vendor for professional VCRs, TBCs, and any other equipment that might become available. I had heard the company mentioned on digitalfaq a couple of times (yes, I know I bashed the listservs previously but this actually was very helpful! ), and I liked that a biography of the video technician Tom Grant was one of the top links on the site. TGP also provides a lot of free information on how to care for their machines, which made me think that there was some heart involved here, you know? The featured professional decks were the exact models I was interested in getting, too, so I figured they had exquisite taste.
Scarred from my last phone experience (see my comment on Week 3), I dreaded calling, but Tom picked up and we had a nice little chat. Turns out one of his first jobs was as the A/V guy for a University library, and he seemed to be really excited about the project. He described in detail how he refurbishes the circuit boards in the PRO decks, and even offered to give over-the-phone training on how to maintenance the equipment. When I described to him the challenges of sustainability when working with the public, he suggested using a cheap deck to test the tapes for stickiness before I popped them in the Panasonic AG-1980, and I’m definitely going to try that out.
The quality of the machines will be the ultimate test, but I’m hopeful that TGP Sales and the Memory Lab can ride off into the sunset together.
You’ll notice there’s a couple of things missing from our equipment list (furniture, computers), and that’s because they were already available at the library. Multiple old VCRs and tape players in our A/V department are also available for the lab, so I’ll be testing these in the coming month and reserving some as back-ups.
I’ve even received two donations (Thanks Nick! Thanks Mom!), leading me to think a city-wide donation drive might be a great opportunity to build-out our transfer capabilities and raise awareness about the lab. If you’ve got an old player or camcorder, hit me up!