Howard Besser

Professor Emeritus

Professor Howard Besser

Howard Besser is Professor of Cinema Studies and Founding Director of the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation masters degree program (MIAP).  In addition to teaching one to three MIAP courses per year, he teaches a regular Cinema Studies course in Free Culture and Open Access, and has taught New Media, Installation Art, and the Future of Cinema. And he plans to teach a new course on Digital Video and The State.  In 2020 he is finishing up a $450,000 grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to train librarians as Privacy Advocates teaching endangered communities about digital privacy issues, and in 2021 he will be starting a new $250,000 IMLS grant to further extend the reach of the highly divers 100 Privacy Advocates already trained.  

He is currently working on the tension between preservation and privacy and between preservation and access within collections of social media that tend to be the most revealing of contemporary times (like tweets and Facebook postings as part of social movements). His ongoing interest in film distribution for the use of higher education has led to his testimony before the US Copyright Office on what eventually became the TEACH Act, 2 MIAP student theses, and his own current work on issues involving faculty teaching with films during the distance learning of a pandemic. Besser has always been interested in historically neglected types of works and historically neglected populaces. His prior research projects have involved preserving the records of social movements, digital public television, preserving and providing digital access to dance performance, preserving difficult electronic works, issues around copyright and fair use, Do-It-Yourself media, and the changing nature of media with the advent of digital delivery systems.

Previously he was a Professor of Information Studies at UCLA, where he taught and did research on multimedia, image databases, digital libraries, metadata standards, digital longevity, web design, information literacy, distance learning, intellectual property, and the social and cultural impact of new information technologies.  Besser is an international expert on new technologies in libraries, museums, and archives, and has been active in national and international efforts to develop metadata and standards for the cultural heritage community.

Author of “Digital Longevity” in Handbook for Digital Projects, a Management Tool for Preservation and Access (Northeast Document Conservation Center, 2000); co-authored “The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age” (National Academy Press, 2000), “Defining the Problem of Our Vanishing Memory: Background, Current Status, Models for Resolution” in Time and Bits: Managing Digital Continuity (Getty Information Institute and Getty Conservation Institute, 1998). Articles in The Moving Image, First Monday, Processed World, Art Libraries Journal 25, Cinema Journal, Journal of the American Society of Information Science, Museum Studies Journal. Awarded the Outstanding Information Studies Teacher of the Year, American Society for Information Science, 1995. Member of the National Archives Electronic Records Preservation Review Panel, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, 2002-present; on the Preservation Committee, Electronic Literature Organization, 2002-present.  Recipient of grants from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Digital Information Infrastructure & Preservation Program, the Mellon Foundation, Pacific Bell, and Intel Research.

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B.A. 1976 (media), California (Berkeley)
M.L.S. 1977, California (Berkeley)
Ph.D. 1988 (Library and Information Studies), California (Berkeley)