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Section XIII: Education and training

13.1 New media require specialized archivists
13.2 Training needs for AV archivists
13.3 Organisation and harmonisation of education programmes.
13.4 Recommended standards for training
13.5 Curriculum development for archive technicians
13.6 Training for audiovisual archivists

 

13.1 New media require specialized archivists

Wolfgang Klaue, Staatliches Filmarchiv der D.D.R., Berlin

INTRODUCTION

Archives for audiovisual material are relatively new. The first sound recording process was devised in 1877. The earliest sound archives were set up in the twenties, but most of them were established after 1945, in close association with the development of magnetic sound recording. "Moving images" were projected for the first time in 1895. The earliest film archives opened after 1930. The technical foundation for television was laid in the thirties. Television archives multiplied in the main after 1950, alongside the mass expansion of television. Forty, fifty, sixty years are a short space of time in historical terms for the evolution of completely new types of archive, but if we look closely, we find the period can really be narrowed down to about three decades. When audiovisual archives were in the embryonic stage, it was impossible to foresee the complexity of the new problems, questions and demands which would arise. World War II interrupted the process when it was barely underway, stripping down the functions of these archives to the mere task of preserving collections. And so it was not really until the years after 1945 that audiovisual archives received a particular boost to their development. The reasons for this were scientific and technological progress in the media and communications industry, which permitted an astonishing impetus to the mass media of film, radio and television, and also the fact that the young audiovisual archives were able to develop under peaceful conditions in most countries.

At this point audiovisual material was not accepted either as art or as an historical source. The history and archive sciences were slow to tackle media which promoted entertainment as well as disseminating art, culture and knowledge. Sceptical reluctance towards audiovisual archives did not prevent their foundation, but it did hamper timely recognition of new theoretical and practical problems. Serious deficiencies in the training of staff for audiovisual archives are due in part to this. In the industrial countries, audiovisual archives have developed with tremendous momentum over the last thirty years. One peculiar feature of radio, film and TV as media is that they cannot function, or else can function only at a very low level, without archives. The proportions vary greatly, but archive material constitutes between 20 % and 60 % of the daily programmes of radio and TV broadcasting stations. And the fact that films can be re-used in a variety of ways for cinema, television and cassettes has enhanced the status of film archives. Audiovisual archives house vast economic treasures. The State Film Archive in the GDR stocks some 700,000 reels of film, at a raw stock value of about US$450 billion. The contents of an average television channel archive represent several billion US dollars of converted production. These figures assume even greater weight when they are compared to the costs of new productions, which lie between US$ 50 and $100 per minute for radio and between $ 500 and $ 3,000 per minute for television.

Efficient archives guaranteeing optimum preservation and the fastest possible access are a conditio sine qua non of the modern mass media. No doubt this complex integration into a production process is a feature peculiar to audiovisual archives, but this does not mean that their function is radically different. They are "archives courantes" on the one hand and historical archives on the other. The dividing line has become very flimsy. The dynamic development of audiovisual archives in industrialized countries should not, however, disguise the fact that: - there is considerable ground to make up in the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, where audiovisual material is deposited on a fragmentary and sporadic basis; - irreparable losses have been suffered in the past and even today most of the material worth keeping is not safeguarded in many countries; - inadequate financial support in particular is jeopardizing the preservation of collections; - staff qualifications do not match the greater demands posed by audiovisual archives in both developing and developed countries.

TRAINING AND IN-SERVICE EDUCATION TO DATE

There are approximately 30,000 radio and TV stations around the world. Many of these have archives at their disposal. Films are made in over 100 countries. Film archives are known to exist in about 70 countries. Where have the thousands of staff members acquired their qualifications for work in audiovisual archives? The answer is paradoxical: with one exception in the USSR, there is no systematic training for the staff of audiovisual archives. At a UNESCO Round Table in 1987, which will be discussed in more detail below, the participants arrived at the conclusion: "Necessary qualifications for working in film, TV and sound archives have been acquired so far through most different scientific disciplines, long professional experience, supplemented by on-the-spot training and individual efforts. Many staff members of audiovisual archives are autodidacts. They acquired their professional knowledge in an indirect way over a long period of time. There is a serious contradiction between the growing importance of moving image archives in developed and developing countries and the present possibilities for education." The lack of facilities for initial and in-service training for audiovisual archives has been evident for many years and has led to a number of initiatives at national and international level. The Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film (FIAF) held its first Summer School in 1973. The event has been run six times since then (five times in Berlin/GDR and once in Copenhagen), enabling about 100 employees of film archives to acquire a three-week basic training in all areas of the work of these specialized archives. The Fédération Internationale des Archives de Télévision (FIAT) and the International Association of Sound Archives (IASA) hold symposia and training courses in their special fields. Several NGO's came together in 1983 (Stockholm) and 1987 (Berlin/West) to organize technical archive symposia, with discussion of the latest scientific research into preserving and restoring audiovisual material. On-the-spot training, which is the practice in an major archives, has definitely been the most crucial method of training staff. This method has had its advantages and its limitations:

- programmes were narrowly specialized and aimed at limited target groups;
- instruction was restricted to the partial knowledge required by participants or to very general rudimentary knowledge of film, TV and sound archives;
- training focussed primarily on practical aspects. The aim was to skill or specialize participants in a certain field of work;
- courses were limited in time. They took place as the need arose. There was a lack of continuity.

In 1980, at UNESCO's 21st General Conference, consensus consideration was given to the Recommendation for the Safeguarding and Preservation of Moving Images. This document draws the attention of all governments to the significance of the audiovisual heritage and to the measures necessary for preserving it. Articles 19 and 20c contain an explicit demand for the organization of training programmes and for international cooperation in the field. (Art. 19: "Training programmes on the safeguarding and restoration of moving imaces should be organized, covering the most recent methods and techniques." Art. 20: "Member States are invited to associate their efforts in order to promote the safeguarding and preservation of moving images which form part of the cultural heritage of nations. Such cooperation should be stimulated by the competent international governmental and non- governmental organizations and should comprise the following measures: (c) Organization of national or international training courses in related fields in particular for nationals of developing countries.") The Recommendation gave an important new impetus to training audiovisual archivists: UNESCO enabled the holding of regional seminars in Mexico (1981), Poona, Sao Paulo/Rio de Janeiro (1984), Maputo (1986). UNESCO has also supported the publication of various basic manuals on the problems of audiovisual archives (Handbook for Film Archives, 1980, FIAF. Panorama of Audiovisual Archives, 1986, FIAT. Preservation and Restoration of Moving Images and Sound, 1986, FIAF.). UNESCO has subsidized individual fellowships, FIAF Summer Schools, and technical symposia. A number of projects were also carried out as part of the RAMP programme, including Sam Kula's study "The Archival appraisal of moving images" (UNESCO, 1983) and various regional training courses (Indonesia, Kenya). The measures mentioned above sparked off more demand than they could satisfy. Each regional seminar drew up new, urgent appeals for support in training staff. From the early eighties, too, those NGO's specializing in archiving audiovisual material have been discussing problems of training in their annual Round Table. Partial progress has not resulted in any fundamental change. For this reason, a proposal was made in 1986 to convene an expert meeting concerned exclusively with initial and in-service training for employees of film, TV and sound archives. UNESCO took up the proposal, and the meeting was held in Berlin/West in May 1987.

ROUND TABLE ON TRAINING STAFF FOR AUDIOVISUAL ARCHIVES

The meeting was of historic significance. It was the first time that representatives of various NG0s (FIAF, FIAT, IASA, ICA, IFLA, CICT - International Film and Television Council, CILECT - International Association of Film Schools) had come together to discuss initial and in-service training for the staff of audiovisual archives. Some of the NG0s which participated had been working on major blueprints for training audiovisual or media archivists. For several years the IASA Training Committee chaired by Dr Rainer Hubert (Vienna) has been analysing the practice and requirements of training in sound archives and elaborating appropriate programmes. Paul Früh (Switzerland) presented the 5th General Meeting of FIAT in 1984 with a framework for in-service education for archivists and documentalists in audiovisual media. Prof. Friedrich Kahlenberg (Koblenz) had lectured on training media archivists to the 10th International Archive Congress in 1985. It was soon clear at the two-day meeting in Berlin/West that, for all this positive experience, there was much new territory to cover. The value of this Round Table lay in the agreement reached on several basic principles, the collation of unsolved problems, and the adoption of some practical measures to intensify cooperation. A long list of recommendations was compiled, and the following deserve special mention here:

- exchange of regular information about training courses run by NG0s and their members;
- a record of the teaching programmes hitherto used for in-service training events;
- identification of the archives' need for qualified staff in various special fields;
- identification of institutions that might be willing to train audiovisual archivists;
- compilation of a list of suitable instructors.

UNESCO is recommended to:

- draw up a feasibility study on how existing institutions in Asia, Africa and Latin America could be used to support training of audiovisual archivists;
- incorporate in-service training measures for specialists in audiovisual archives and for instructors into its programme;
- assist in a preliminary study on how to exploit the potential for distance teaching for audiovisual archivists, and
- facilitate another meeting of experts in 1989. The measures recommended seem attainable if all concerned demonstrate their goodwill.

MANY QUESTIONS AND PROBLEMS - SOME ANSWERS

Is the demand for improved training for audiovisual archivists only being raised by a handful of enthusiasts, or is there really an objective need?

In 1986, under contract to UNESCO, FIAF and FIAT carried out a worldwide survey of the situation in film and television archives. In their final reports they came to the following conclusions:

FIAF

Insufficient funding and the lack of trained staff for moving image archives were two fundamental problems stressed by most of the participating 78 countries. In questionnaire III (sent to countries with established archives, 44 answers received) more precise questions were put on the areas in which training is needed:

- film handling and restoration in 28 countries, cataloguing and usage of computers in 25 countries, documentation, librarianship in 18 countries, archive management in 19 countries.

For all incipient and new archives, training of staff is one of the most crucial points in further progress.

FIAT

Training of archive staff is a clear need stated by all organizations answering the questionnaire. Those answering questionnaire II state that training at university level does not exist and that even basic training is quite deficient.

How great is the demand for today and tomorrow?

The NGO's have agreed to seek an answer to this question. One thing is already certain: need varies tremendously from one country to another, and specialized training is not justifiable everywhere.

Education or training: what is required?

Both are considered necessary. Proven forms of on-the-spot training, courses, seminars and summer schools at national, regional and international level should be continued, systematized, co-ordinated and expanded. It is, however, also necessary to create an academic qualification for employees of audiovisual archives. Acquiring knowledge in the roundabout manner is not very efficient, takes too long and does not meet practical requirements.

In which fields should audiovisual archivists specialize? Do the traditional scientific disciplines not offer an adequate foundation?

Decades of practical experience in audiovisual archives have given birth to new theoretical questions. Investigation and analysis are still in the early stage, but it is evident that a new scientific specialization and differentiation are emerging. To mention but a few of the new problem areas posed in audiovisual archives:

Access - Is a legal deposit for audiovisual material, similar to that for books and magazines, possible, necessary or desirable? Archive practice can testify to a wide variety of models, ranging from compulsory deposit and donation through to purchase. All these models have their roots in specific social conditions. The advantages and disadvantages should be analyzed.

Evaluation - Completely new aspects have to be considered in establishing criteria for evaluation: the cost of the material itself, production costs, the totally new pattern of users. Individual researchers are not the primary users of audiovisual archives, but rather institutions in the audiovisual media whose main concern is to use the archive material again.

Cataloguing - Existing standards for books or non-book material have proved unsuitable for cataloguing audiovisual material. New methodological demands are made on cataloguing, documentation and indexing by the specific nature of the various recording procedures, the manner in which non-readable data carriers are rendered usable, and the combination of sound and visual elements.

Preservation and Restoration - The physical and chemical properties of recording materials call for scientifically devised methods of storage, handling and restoration which are not the same as those applied to conventional archive, library and museum stock. The ongoing refinement of reproduction technologies gives rise to ethical and theoretical questions concerning the potential manipulation of original audiovisual documents.

Source Criticism - The tools hitherto used in source criticism are not adequate to identify the authenticity of audiovisual material.

Use - In the field of audiovisual media the traditional pattern of division into "archives courantes" and historical archives is no longer or else not yet pronounced. Usually both functions have to be met simultaneously. This places demands on the level of accessibility, cataloguing and indexing, which must do justice to both day-to-day reference and scientific processing. The list of interesting problems created by the work of audiovisual archives could be expanded. This selection is intended as an indication of the need to respond to the specific problems of audiovisual archives with specific scientific investigation, and to furnish the archivist with the specialized knowledge that this work demands.

All-round training or specialization?

Should there be a general training for work in archives of audiovisual media specialization in the work of sound, film or television archives? The meeting of experts in Berlin expressed a preference for an all-round basic training, which would impart theoretical and practical knowledge about archiving all audiovisual in spite of the many differences between the various media, the common factors dominate in the custodial duties of an archive. A training founded on this understanding will produce staff who could be flexibly deployed. Scientific and technical archive training should be separate. One of the characteristics of audiovisual archive material is the broad technology applied to its preservation, conservation, restoration and utilization. An archive manager should be familiar with the general functions of an audiovisual archive, while an archive scientist must also possess basic technical knowledge about the various recording processes. A training in av-archive science could lay the foundation for employment in archive management, cataloguing, documenting, access and customer requirements. Training for specialists in film, video and sound technology, chemistry, air conditioning equipment, etc. must be provided through the technical disciplines.

At what levels would specialized training be desirable?

Specialised training via the academic path would be appropriate for top and middle management. Qualified employees with specialist knowledge are also required. Various forms of in-service training at the place of work have proved their worth for this group in particular.

Where should staff for audiovisual archives receive their training?

The realistic approach is not seen in the creation of new institutes, but rather in integration into existing training programmes at educational establishments for archivists, librarians, documentalists, and media, information and film scientists. Quick results can hardly be expected. There is a lack of teaching staff. Training the trainers", as it was phrased at the Berlin meeting, is a key problem all over the world in setting up a specialized academic training for staff from audiovisual archives. There is a lack of adequate scientific teaching material. Initial publications on the work of film, television and sound archives have just appeared. But many problems call for an even more thorough investigation. There is a lack of the technical equipment required to provide a training that is practically relevant. These and many more problems can doubtless not be solved in the short term. But wherever possible a start should be made on specialized training for audiovisual archivists. The authorities responsible will have to be reminded again and again of the commitment they undertook, in adopting the 1980 Recommendation, to preserve the audiovisual heritage as part of the national culture of every country.


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