Library of Congress technician discusses cataloging and building a video game collection

David Gibson, a moving image technician at The Library of Congress tasked with acquiring and preserving video games, recently gave an interview in which he discussed the process on the LIbrary of Congress blog.

Gibson worked with a colleague, Brian Taves, to "take on the responsibility of storing, cataloging, and ultimately providing preservation and access services for video games at the Library of Congress."

"The collection as it now stands consists of about 3,000 games for a wide variety of platforms and 1,500 strategy guides, in addition to descriptive documentation that comes through Copyright with the games and about 50 examples of gameplay footage on VHS or DVD," Gibson said.

In the interview, Gibson cited copyright law as a major source of friction. Under old regulations, requirements deemed that the LIbrary had to receive "printed copies of the first and last 25 pages of source code for the game and a video example of 10 - 15 minutes of gameplay." Though the pair's work, they were able to modify the copyright deposit requirements, and most companies now furnish the Library with the games.

Gibson said that the collection breaks down into two rough categories: games from 2006 to the present and older games, which begin roughly in the early 1990s. Most of the older games are PC and Mac CD-ROMs.

Gibson and the Moving Image Section of the LIbrary of Congress are currently cataloging and storing the games in the Library's possession. The Library tracks its collection of strategy guides in its online catalogue. Budding researchers can check it out here. After the collection of games is databased, it will be available in the Moving Image reading room in the Madison Building on Capitol Hill.

"The Moving Image Section is actively seeking donations of video games, game related periodicals, and equipment to the collection," he said. "We are particularly interested in consoles and games from the 1970s through the 1990s, since these are underrepresented in our current holdings."

Donors can email David Gibson and Brian Taves directly for more information. Their contact information is available on the Library of Congress blog.

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