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Managing Old Media Part 2

Dear Jo the Clutterbuster:

We have organized the In-Use media devices and their accompanying doodads . But as we excavated the attic, basement, closets, and drawers, we discovered old photos, slides , LP records and the like.  My kids don’t even know what these items are!

Sincerely yours,

Behind the times

Dear BTT:

Often we feel that our memories are contained in objects and images. We record moments and then put them away to view “later.” We don’t define “later.” By the time we want to review them, we don’t even have the machines on which to view this media.

It is difficult to decide what to retain, as well as how to retain, photos, negatives, videos, records, slides, undeveloped film, etc. To make this task easier, you will once again need to determine the “why” of keeping media and their related items. You can then determine in what form you wish to retain it. In Part 2, we will examine how to manage “No Longer Used” media. In Part 3, we will determine storage options and ways to recycle old media.

Getting Started:

Let’s start with some helpful questions to ask yourself when you encounter no longer used media.

Who owns these images?

Sometimes, the slides or pictures you stumble upon belong to other members of your family, previous spouses, old college roommates, maybe your neighbor. If the items are not yours, return them to their proper owner. If that is not possible, discard them. If you think they have historical significance, donate them to your local historical society.

In what condition are the images?

If photos, film, slides have been stored in very hot or very damp places in cardboard boxes, there is a good chance that the images have faded or are irreparable. Once you determine which images are valuable to you, you can determine if you are willing to invest the time and funds to restore them.

When did you last look at these images?

“Later” is now. Life is always busy; somehow, we make time for those things we value. If your media have been stored for years and you have never sorted, labeled, viewed, or shared them with others, the images may, in actuality, have little meaning to you. (Don’t forget, you are continually adding to your cache of images that you need to sort, label, view and share and the current is usually what receives your attendtion.)

When would you want to view them?

Maybe you bring out the old photos, videos, films on holidays or during events like funerals, marriages, rites of passage. If so, you may want to create an event box that contains only those precious images that you want to share with others. (See Transferring Media below)

How will you view them?

Although there is currently a renaissance of LP records, it is rare that owners of LP’s actually listen to them. Usually they no longer own a turn-table, speakers, amplifier or receivers. They just keep hauling these these VERY HEAVY boxes wherever they go. Other machines you will need for no-longe-used media include (but are not limited to):

  • Audio tape players
  • Slide projectors
  • Reel to reel players
  • 8 track players
  • VHS players
  • ¾ inch video players
  • Beta video players
  • 8mm or 16mm film projectors
  • Older versions of computers
  • Older versions of software
  • Video games equipment.

No equipment, no viewing. So how do you determine whether to keep the audio tapes, slides, reels, tapes, film spools, software and old electronic games? Ask yourself the following:

How important is this material?

To whom is it important?

I once had to find a home for an extensive collection of classical records. The local classical radio station had transferred to CDs and had no interest; the local music classes now listened on-line, the library had no storage, etc. The family of the deceased loved one recalled the many times they sat together and listened to classical music. They then realized that their memory of his passion was the legacy, not the boxes of records.

Determine whether the no-longer-viewed media meets all your criteria:

  • You Own It
  • You Care for It
  • You Will View It
  • You have the equipment on which to view it AND
  • You Value the Imagery.

Next Step:

Discard, donate, recycle the media that doesn’t meet all your criteria.

My next blog looks at ways to view your no-longer-used media, create storage systems and options for recycling media.