Thursday, August 07, 2008

Excellent Overview of Tape & Film Preservation

I have at last had a chance to dive into a truly excellent piece of work entitled Tracking The Reel World, which presents the results of a study on audiovisual collections undertaken in the framework of the TAPE project. Based on data collected from hundreds of organizations from all over Europe, most of them archives, libraries, museums (and research) institutes that hold audiovisual recordings as minority collections, this is the first extensive report on preservation and access of sound and moving image materials outside the broadcasting sector and large audiovisual archives.

The report shows that a rich diversity of audiovisual materials are held in all types of institutions, but that obstacles in managing them are experienced by many. The study provides estimates on the size of collections, on the presence of specific carriers and their condition. It also presents data on deteriorating materials, obsolete equipment, cataloguing backlogs, and lack of expertise – all problems that are reported frequently.

The report, issued earlier in 2008, documents how non-specialist institutions employ new technology for preservation and access of audiovisual materials and concludes that uncertainties about the rapidly evolving digital environment make progress hesitant. Valuable and often unique recordings run the risk of being left behind. The promise digitization holds for easy access and survival of endangered materials can be fulfilled only with more support for minority collections in their transition to the digital world.

The report is available as a PDF file, free of charge, at (2.520 KB). Well worth reading - and the executive summary has some frightening findings. But, unlike other reports, this review also has some practical conclusions. It is not all doom and gloom.

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