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Jack White has just donated $200,000 to the National Recording Preservation Foundation. The inaugural gift will help publicly launch the foundation as well as set the National Recording Preservation Plan in motion. The plan follows a 2000 congressional act that aims to catalog and preserve the United States’ recording history. Part of White’s donation will go towards converting an 8-track collection to digital, among other other things. However, time is of the essence, according to Executive Director Gerald Seligman. Via Washington Post:

“It’s thrilling,” Executive Director Gerald Seligman said, to be able to publicly launch the foundation. He cited White and foundation board members as extremely committed to preservation.

“Here we have a whole nation of cultural heritage in recorded sound [and] a lot of it is in precarious shape,” Seligman said. “Some was recorded on very fragile media — like old cylinders, acetates, reel-to-reel tapes — and it’s turning into shards.”

Now that preservation is underway, he said, time is of the essence: “Some of these things have got to be saved quick.”