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Rick Prelinger Evaluates Modern Media Storage

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Media Matters

Though the contents of every cassette, LP, and VHS tape you've ever owned can now fit inside a gadget the size of a tie clip, your plasma TV and subwoofer still need a resting place. Film archivist Rick Prelinger helps us evaluate modern media storage.


Crates of vinyl, an overbrimming welter of books, and a rat’s nest of cables and cords emanating from receivers, TVs, iPod docks, and perhaps the odd Victrola are the hallmarks of the media-obsessed collector. Perhaps it’s the World Book Encyclopedias from 1973 or the complete Magnum, P.I. DVD box set—–either way our desire to amass and display far more media than we’ll likely consume is as rampant as ever. And though the oldsters are more likely to play their Gordon Lightfoot on the one-twos than the digital one-zeros, every generation faces the age-old question: How do I store my library?

Whether you’ve gone strictly digital, with nothing more than a ThinkPad and an MP3 player, or you still cling to your Betamax cassettes, we’ve got a media storage option for you. From understated and efficient to wall-spanning installations that send as loud a message as your back issues of Ranger Rick, this selection is bound to satisfy any size annal and any size pocketbook. We asked archivist and filmmaker Rick Prelinger, founder of the Prelinger Library and Prelinger Archives, to help us through.

  • A Note on Our Expert: Rick Prelinger

    Rick Prelinger has a lot of media to store, not only at his house, which he says is overrun with books, movies, and the like, but also at the Prelinger Library he founded in San Francisco with his

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