On Monday we'll see how the first test to the Digital Television transition happens. The switch will take place at 1600 UTC solely within a narrowly defined area centered in Wilmington, North Carolina. If one is not equipped for the switch, the only thing that will be viewable on a standard television with Over The Air reception will be the local PBS station and one low-power television station that will make the switch at the normal time. According to the Commission's press release, this was suggested by Commissioner Michael Copps.
Why is this a worry at all to librarians? The first thing to consider is not how reception will be impaired but how this changes the landscape. Shifts like this may rapidly reduce the use of any collections of VHS tapes due to the wiring changes involved. While converters are able to be hooked up to VCRs, who would want to go through all that trouble? Once the full roll-out takes place of this, we may well see what happens with our media collections in terms of continuing composition.
There have been predictions that this will be a trainwreck. I certainly hope it is not. If our libraries have any sort of media collections built up, we really do have a vested interest in seeing this roll-out be a smooth yet simple matter.