The Library of Congress began collecting motion pictures in 1893
when Thomas Edison and his brilliant assistant W.K.L. Dickson deposited
the Edison Kinetoscopic Records for copyright. However, because
of the difficulty of safely storing the flammable nitrate film
used at the time, the Library retained only the descriptive material
relating to motion pictures. In 1942, recognizing the importance
of motion pictures and the need to preserve them as a historical
record, the Library began the collection of the films themselves.
From 1949 on these included films made for television. Today the
Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (MBRS)
has responsibility for the acquisition, cataloging and preservation
of the motion picture and television collections. The Division
operates the Motion Picture and Television Reading Room to provide
access and information services to an international community of
film and television professionals, archivists, scholars and researchers.