Be Kind Rewind

Navigating Issues of Access and Practising an Ethics of Care for Magnetic Media from Vulnerable Communities

  • Julia Gilmore


Magnetic media, once democratizing documentary tools for marginalized communities, now face degralescence due to the physical degradation of magnetic tape and the obsolescence of playback equipment. However, these are not the only concerns when it comes to these media; while digitizing and providing online access have increasingly become requirements for major funding bodies and strategies adopted by archives, the contemporary neoliberal orientation toward open, online access poses additional risks for vulnerable communities.

The impending magnetic media crisis presents a critical opportunity to contend with neoliberal archival impulses; re-envision approaches to preservation, digitization, and access; and acknowledge the aective values of magnetic media for communities who have produced and cared for them. Largely unexplored in archival literature, the unique promise and precarity of magnetic media created by vulnerable communities require ethical consideration of issues of privacy, exposure, and decontextualization and an understanding of the complexities of preserving magnetic media. This article explores these considerations and issues, advocates for the adoption of a feminist ethics of care, and introduces the VHS Archives Working Group as a generative model for caring for magnetic media from vulnerable communities.

Author Biography

Julia Gilmore

Julia Gilmore works as a digital projects librarian at Scholars Portal at the University of Toronto Libraries and volunteers with the Collections and Public Service Committee at the ArQuives and the Toronto Information Network of Independent (TINI) Music Co-op. She completed a Master of Infor- mation (MI) degree at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information in 2à22, specializing in archives and records management. Her interests include audiovisual and community archives, digital preservation, and Wikidata.

How to Cite
Gilmore, Julia. 2023. “Be Kind Rewind: Navigating Issues of Access and Practising an Ethics of Care for Magnetic Media from Vulnerable Communities”. Archivaria 96 (November), 70-95.