25.07.2005 -

Preservation training for audiovisual archivists completed in Austria

Audiovisual archivists, conservators and IT specialists from Laos, Cuba, Uganda, Ethiopia, Israel, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Denmark and Austria met for the Vienna Summer School on Audio Preservation from 11 to 15 July 2005 in Austria's capital. The UNESCO sponsored training course was run by the Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, in cooperation with the Austrian Mediathek.

The participation of experts from Eastern Europe and Israel was arranged within the framework of the Exchange Schemes between the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the respective Academies of their home countries.


The programme started with a thorough explanation of recording media, their respective technology and composition, stability/life expectancy, environmental factors, and the resulting handling and storage recommendations. Obsolescence of replay equipment and ancillary tools like test tapes, spools or leader tapes were also discussed, including strategies to minimise threats resulting from that side.


The subsequent modules of the Summer School were basically arranged in accordance with the standard publications of IASA-TC 03 and 04, the basic guidelines in this field, issued by the Technical Committee of IASA (International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives): ethics and principles of preserving audio materials (IASA-TC 03), and practical guidelines for the production and preservation of digital audio objects (IASA-TC 04). Theory was complemented by practical demonstrations, specifically in the fields of signal extraction from original carriers, and data integrity checking (error counting) with DAT tapes and optical disks.


The Mediathek explained and demonstrated its Digital Mass Storage System, while the Phonogrammarchiv gave an account of its small-scale approach to digital storage. Special emphasis was given to dissuading participants from relying on optical recordable disks as their sole storage media without applying specific testing procedures. Rather, they were encouraged to abandon these amateur products in favour of professional back-up media, which have come within the financial reach of even the smaller institutions. An outlook into uncompromising video archiving concluded the week.


In the final debate, participants expressed their concern on the success of bottom-up approaches in the implementation of necessary measures and changes within institutions. They recommended that, in addition to events aimed at the training of preservation specialists, IASA and other bodies should organise brief workshops for archive and library managers to trigger top-down processes in the improvement of preservation strategies.

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