A new frontier: Preserving computer and video games at the U-M Library

Interior view of the Computer and Video Games Archive with inset photo of U-M Librarian David Carter

Among the many unique resources that make the Duderstadt Center so special is the Computer and Video Games Archives, part of the U-M Art, Architecture and Engineering Library, conceived and curated by creative and forward-thinking librarian David Carter and managed by librarian Val Waldron.

“We’re somewhat unique here at University of Michigan in that we’re an open archive where you can make a reservation and then come in and play any of the games that you want to for  whatever reason.”

David Carter

U-M Library Video Game Archivist, Comics Librarian, Reference Services Co-coordinator (Art, Architecture and Engineering Library)

David Carter, U-M Library Video Game Archivist, Comics Librarian, Reference Services Co-coordinator (Art, Architecture and Engineering Library). Photo by Eric Bronson, courtesy Michigan News

The CVGA’s extensive and accessible collection requires that forward thinking of what should be preserved for the future of the cultural assets that uniquely describe our society today. Computer and console-based games are among a legion of contemporary, born-digital content that, despite their ubiquity, could easily be lost forever if not rescued and preserved today. This is especially true of preserving not only the game-playing assets, but the game hardware and peripherals as well. To-date the CVGA has collected several thousand computer, console, and board games. The current catalog listing shows more than 8,000 records! Almost all are playable, and many include their original hardware.

The next frontier for the U-M Library’s CVGA effort is to help lead efforts in understanding the processes need to provide durable archival processes for these fragile resources.

Val Waldron, U-M Library Computer and Video Game Archive Manager (Art, Architecture and Engineering Library), photo by Eric Bronson, Michigan News

“There are a few experts or specialists at other universities, but there isn’t a lot of known work or discussion around the formal archival process for these games.”

Val Waldron

U-M Library Computer and Video Game Archive Manager (Art, Architecture and Engineering Library)

The CVGA is now open, by appointment: Reservations. Located in room B474 in the Duderstadt Center’s Lower Level (map).


The CVGA dedicated page is: “Computer and Video Game Archive”

Contact video.games@umich.edu with questions or to schedule a consultation.

You can also find more about online games page and research guide for ideas on how to play classic games online for free, how to play board games online with your friends, and more.


The video below and a more extensive article were recently published by The U-M News organization, Michigan News, authored by Lilian Varner with Sydney Hawkins. Photographs by Eric Bronson (Michigan News).

Read the complete story: “A new frontier: Preserving computer and video games at the U-M Library”

Video courtesy of Michigan News