Contents - Previous - Next

Section VIII: Technical preservation

8.1 General definitions used in preservation
8.2 Television archives
8.3 Guide to technical equipment: audio archives


8.1 General definitions used in preservation

Henning Schou


The justification for the existence of an audio-visual archive is contained in the use that is made of its holdings. An archive must, therefore, not only collect, preserve and catalogue its collections of sounds and images but also provide access to them.

The prerequisite for permanent accessibility is the survival of the visual and audio content of the inherently unstable and perishable materials upon which the recordings are placed. For this reason, preservation is the central and vital part of an archive's function. Virtually all the other activities of the archive depend upon it.

1. Preservation Procedures

Preservation includes such practices and procedures as technical examination, technical selection, conservation, methods of storage in correct environments, surveillance, labelling and similar processes. It also includes technical restoration, rejuvenation, duplication and quality control.

2. The Preservation System

All aspects of preservation are closely interrelated. For instance, it is pointless to have first class storage environments if the records being stored are incorrectly handled and shelved or if labelling, numbering or housekeeping records are inadequate to ensure complete identification or control of the material. The various aspects of preservation together comprise what audio-visual archivists call the "preservation system".

3. Conservation

Conservation is defined in this context as the component of preservation that embraces those processes or actions necessary to ensure the continued physical survival of an artefact without further degradation.

4. Restoration

Restoration is the process of compensating for degradation in order to return an artefact or its visual or sonic content to its original character and condition.

5. Reconstruction

Reconstruction is the editorial process of reassembling for public presentation, authoritative versions of productions by deriving material from preserved versions that are incomplete or editorially disarranged. As custodians, audio-visual archives respect the editorial integrity of each production and, as far as is technologically possible, preserve its content and continuity.

Contents - Previous - Next