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13.2 Training needs for AV archivists

Curriculum Development Working Party

1. A number of considerations have to be taken into account in the education and professional development of av archivists, including economic considerations, cultural heritage and technical innovation. A 1989 Unesco study 'Video-World-Wide' examined the international development of the mass media in 39 countries and reconfirmed other Unesco findings.

There are major discrepancies and irregularities in the applications of mass communication at a global level, by the press, television, radio and cinematograph film. Nations with a highly developed economy are in a much better position to propagate their own ideas of culture and civilisation, whereas experience shows that the cultural identity of the developing countries and their own historical self-understanding is pushed into the background and neglected. The summit meeting of the seven most highly developed capitalist industrial nations in Paris, July 1989 estimated the third world debt at 1.5 billion US dollars. The 1989 development report of the World Bank commented upon this state of affairs as follows: `Developing countries in Africa and Latin America which have fallen behind in the rapidly expanding world economy, will hardly be able to regain ground in the years to come'. This also places restrictions on the preservation of the international cultural heritage.

Many countries in Asia, Central and South America will be especially hard hit by this development and it will be difficult to enforce the UN principle of 'one country - one voice' in the field of audiovisual media. On the other hand, modern satellite television and audiovisual technology suitable for home use have begun to open up prospects for increased understanding between peoples and for the preservation and development of national and cultural identities.

2. Modern technology facilitates exchanges of experience in the preservation of a nation's cultural heritage and allows for the broadcasting of unique aspects of ethnic cultures. Politicians in conjunction with initiatives launched by UN/Unesco, have time and again pointed out the need to extend cooperation in the field of culture. By this they also envisage a new level of exchange of information and a situation where nations and peoples can get to know one another. Worldwide, tv can play a special role in this process through its capacity to establish contact between several hundred million people and provide them with information.

In Europe, EEC and CMEA countries foresee the possibility of joint cooperation in the preservation of historical and cultural monuments, the joint production of films to publicise the achievements of national cultures and the finest artistic creations of past and present.

Inasmuch as the Unesco study 'ideo-World-Wide' is an invitation to reflect on video as a medium and to carry out practical experiments in this new and expanding technical field, it applies equally to video's historic predecessors (photography, film, sound recording, radio and television broadcasting). Thus archivists will be involved in the process of growing international understanding and communication as the guardians of its sources.

3. If their initiatives to promote training and professional development are not to become Utopian, they must be based on the financial, material and human resources available in order to begin to be able to safeguard, preserve, use and make accessible the cultural heritage contained in archives. All research done so far in the field of audiovisual archives, even in the developed industrial nations, has drawn attention to considerable deficits in the preservation of source material.

It has been recognised and accepted as a world wide priority that in order to safeguard the audiovisual cultural heritage it is necessary to recruit qualified employees in the professional fields of information and documentation, in libraries, museums and archives, who are able to cope with the growing demands being made on them in their professional duties.

All schemes planned for the training of av archivists - in the form of either short-term workshops, summer schools, regional seminars, full-time or correspondence courses with certified leaving examinations - should take account of two aspects in particular:

- the components of the content of study courses
- technical skills which av archivists require for their duties.

4 According to Unesco statistics there are more than 6000 major broadcasting stations and 1200 major television stations distributed all over the world, indicating the size of the need for education and vocational development. The exact figure of public and private stations however is much higher, possibly exceeding 50,000, and each of these stations will store audiovisual archival records. The International Association of Sound Archives (IASA) names over 400 institutions (archives, libraries and museums) engaged in sound recording. The International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) embraces more than 100 such establishments in countries all over the world. In addition figures can be supplemented by the thousands of photograph and press archives. The current production capacity of broadcasting services can be estimated at several thousand millions of US Dollars. The Federal Republic of Germany alone would require an annual budget of more than a hundred million DM to centralise and expertly safeguard, document and make accessible the material produced by its two tv stations, ARD and ZDF.

In addition there is the av material stored in archives run by states, towns, economic enterprises, and social organisations etc. and related museum and library departments. The ability of these bodies and institutions to preserve existing archival records and to cope with new additions each year differs considerably. The audiovisual cultural heritage stored on information carriers which lack even the durability of paper, is at the greatest risk of being lost. This also applies to the technical aspects of photography, sound recording, silent and sound film, black-and-white and colour film and to sound carriers used by radio, tv or for home use.

Fig. 1 Source. Australian Archives. Annual Report 1987-88, Canberra p.38.

Audiovisual records = 3%

- phonograph discs
- photographic negatives
- and prints including
- X-rays
- cinematograph film
- sound recordings
- videotapes

Percentage of tapes held nationally as at 30 June 1988 under the custodial management of the Australian Archives - by format, measured in shelf metres or shelf metre equivalent.

5. Media archives constitute approximately 7% of any one country's total national archives, and in terms of the storage material itself this means approximately 3-4% of the total ie. non-paper archives, which have to be preserved by society in addition to the mass of paper archives. The situation is illustrated by the graph in Figure 1 above.

6. Archives can be described as the `memory' of peoples and nations, and their respective political structures. Their history is closely related to the recorded literature and recorded information of some 5000 years. Methods for storing records are still subject to change and can be described as a union of continuity and discontinuity. There is an element of continuity in the various forms of tablets/plates or scrolls dating back to medieval times right through to the present-day equivalents. The modern equivalent of Babylonian clay tablets is standardised paper, photographic stills and disks; while the modern counterparts of Egyptian papyrus scrolls are modern printing presses, magnetic tapes and computer reels, film reels and videocassettes. Thus tradition and innovation complement each other in archive technology and work procedures.

7. As supporting instruments for the programming of broadcasting stations, news and picture agencies, av archives are more flexible than traditional archives and have to adapt to new techniques more promptly and efficiently. In order to remain competitive and retain a high level of research capacity these institutions need to adapt to current technical progress and constantly update information carriers together with the necessary related equipment and resources. The wealth of practical experience this brings with it and the resulting theoretical gain for general archive science is obvious and over the past few decades innovations and suggestions for theory and practice have been emerging from this kind of archive rather than from any of the traditional archives.

8. It should also be noted that the manner and speed with which new technology is applied by both production and historical audiovisual archives, differs enormously and develops in an ad hoc way. Experts throughout the world complain that an increasing number of photographs, film and sound recordings have been lost and continue to be lost due to the lack of human and material resources needed to safeguard and preserve them. Currently for example only seven countries in the world are able to provide optimal conditions for the storage of colour film. Hence further loss of material of cultural value in the other countries is inevitable. This represents a great challenge for independent media archives and historical av archives that have become an integral part of traditional archives, libraries and museums. It would however be wrong to suppose that the traditional archives consider themselves in a safe position. The restoration and preservation of the various types of paper manufactured since the 19th century appears to be an almost impossible task, and it is feared that more and more archival records which have emerged on paper during the last hundred years will be lost unless a suitable and economically viable method of preservation and copying is found. The situation is even more critical with audiovisual materials.

9. The promotion of av archives has become an integral part of Unesco programmes, and their tasks have been included in the medium-term plan of the International Council of Archives (ICA). The archive congresses held in Bonn, in 1984, and in Paris, 1988, have reflected the integration of audiovisual and related materials into general archives.

The international specialist organisations of film archives (FIAF), television archives (FIAT) and sound archives (IASA) have also accepted the challenge and have discussed, initially independently of each other, aspects concerning content and techniques. For a number of years their approach to this problem has been coordinated by joint Round Table discussions with other relevant international organisations including the professional librarians' association (IFLA).

10. The development of all av archives into the 21st century will be closely linked by tradition and innovation. This combination of old and new can be identified in every press, picture, sound, broadcasting, archive, in cinemathèques and videothèques and will inevitably have repercussions on education and continuing vocational development.

In an endeavour to safeguard archival records of audiovisual media even under economic restraint attention should be given to the economic and social history of the 19th and 20th centuries and the auxiliary historical sciences and archive theory, according to which a large number of small and medium-sized firms felt no commitment to culture and history but were exclusively orientated towards economic success and financial gain. Large enterprises on the other hand tended to have a greater interest in investing resources to maintain the traditions and image of their establishment.

11. For example the 'production archives' of ARD and ZDF of the Federal Republic of Germany do not feel under obligation to preserve their stocks solely for re-use and re-broadcasting in programming and productions, but they have also recognised their importance in the spirit of the 1980 Unesco initiative and the recommendations of Unesco and have taken upon themselves the responsibility of broadcasting stations towards cultural policy and are acting as 'archive terminals'. They are prepared to take on the responsibility for preservation of archival records. Inevitably broadcasting stations with their integrated archives, cinemathèques and historical film archives are confronted with a large backlog of material which is not readily accessible and not safeguarded because of a lack of staff and technology. In contrast, television archives appear to be in a much stronger position than other av archives to meet both economic and cultural policy demands. It pays a large television network such as NBC, BBC, ZDF to safeguard archives and ensure detailed documentation in order to use the thousand millions of dollars' worth of programme stock held for re-broadcasting, compilation and sale. The sheer scale of programme capacity can be illustrated by the following figures of stored television hours - current average production costs differ between 250 to 2600 US$ per minute transmitted:

Country TV Broadcasting Hours Est. value of production US$
USA 1,500,000 >20 - 200 thousand million
France (INA) 250.000 >4 - 40 "
Swiss TV 118,000 >2/20 "
Federal Republic 50,000-60,000 >1 - 10 "
of Germany ZDF GDR 10,000 features - 20 "
Staatliches Filmarchiv 50,000 documentaries

More than ever before it is necessary to take economic considerations into account, and to convince those responsible in broadcasting stations, public institutions, and government departments that av archives often have to administer capital assets with considerable value. The experience of two decades has shown that up to 20% of the programmes transmitted by large radio and television stations are repeats, which take the place of new production and enable savings in the order of thousands of millions of dollars. Such savings are impossible unless av materials are safeguarded and made readily accessible. In addition to an understanding of cultural policy this requires an economic awareness of the necessity of investment, subsidies and other funds.

In the final analysis the safeguarding, acquisition, storage, copying processes and the use of the documents stored in picture and sound archives, historical archives, cinemathèques and videothèques involves replacing obsolete machinery with up-to-date equipment. There is a constant reinvestment in new equipment at ever more frequent intervals, due to the rapid speed of technological change.

12. The training of av archive technical specialists, including restorers, film and sound engineers, chemists and photographers, and their knowledge should not be overlooked. Greatly differing manufacturing processes have been applied in the production of audiovisual materials. It is doubtful if current playback equipment will remain compatible with materials for more than a decade. The introduction of more modern miniature format equipment and recording formats often leads to the manufacturing of security copies implying an almost constant copying process. All av archives and museums complain that they are more or less forced to store obsolete technology, recording and professional studio equipment in order to ensure the possibility of reproduction and copying processes.

13. Technical progress may solve some of the current problems in av archive practice, but, even if the parameters as promised by industry stand the test of the demands made by archivists, the plethora of carriers and formats stored in av archives may prevail well into the next century.

14. Currently, not one of the 100 archive schools and other institutions offering archive courses in the world is able to offer a curriculum capable of covering the whole spectrum of existing archives, including av archives. International meetings held in 1988 in Marburg, Paris and Prague on issues related to training and vocational development indicated that established archives schools are able to train at most, only 20% of the specialist archivists required. And individual archive types differ greatly. Currently the traditional archives appear to employ a greater number of specialist archivists than av archives who often rely on outsiders, with or without university or technical qualifications. The media come off badly, and the demand for trained av archivists is considerably greater than can be met by the relevant training establishments.

Organisational and conceptual aspects of professional training have been discussed in detail, including the extensive experiences gained in European countries with a rich tradition in this field such as France, Italy, Austria, Great Britain, USSR, FRG and the GDR and more recent entrants in the field like the USA or Australia. AV archives with several recognisable levels of qualification require employees whose training needs to be complemented by the organisation of full-time, part-time, and post-graduate study. This does not mean that the subject should be made more academic, on the contrary what is required is the adequate practical application of the curricula. Only a few training centres, such as the national archives of the USA and Canada or the regional archive schools in Dakar, Cordoba, New Delhi and the national archives of Malaysia, and European archive schools in France, USSR, FRG and GDR are qualified to train students in this field, plus some training schemes set up by av specialist groups or professional associations. However this still leaves a serious lack of instructors, text-books and teaching aids, not forgetting differentiated curricula. Further activities dealing with issues of training and vocational development have therefore been scheduled by the NGOs with seminars, educational packages and publications.

15. A differentiated professional image and the qualification of archivists in general and av archivists in particular has been recognised as a cooperative aim which may lead in the long run to `harmonisation' and will distribute the burden among established archive schools on the one hand, and the NGOs on the other, for example the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), the International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT), the International Association of Sound Archives (IASA), the International Archive Council (ICA), the Centre International de Liaison des Ecoles de Cinema et de Television (CILECT), the International Federation of Library Association (IFLA) and other professional archive associations.

For almost 15 years efforts have been made by archive and library schools to harmonize curricula. These attempts have only met with partial success despite the great commitment of the ICA and IFLA. The reason, cited by E G Franz, current President of the Committee on Professional Training and Current Education of ICA, is that among the various courses one can only find between 15-20% common elements. These are more obvious in the technical field, in the purpose-built premises for archives and libraries, in the setting up of stores and maintaining technical standards as well as the exchange of professional knowledge on ADP-adaptation among various establishments.

With the increase in computerisation and expenditure on indexing and description, the work and thus the professional image of an archivist is under an even stronger influence of documentation than in the past. In this context promoting contacts, and cooperation between special institutions and specialist colleges on national and international levels, the FID represents another component of cooperation.

Conversely, libraries and museums, cinemathèques and videothèques which often store av archival material, need to adopt archival methods in order to make material accessible and document it for the appraisal of stock and making additions to stock. Thus the qualification of av archivists must be linked with the common features of neighbouring disciplines and professions.

16. Finally, av archives in developing countries, for whom video technology is a starting point and who do not have to concern themselves with the sophisticated historical development of picture, film and sound recordings from the past 150, 100 or 50 years will have an easier task, and a less costly one, as they can dispense with the expensive printing processes and special archive storage premises which would necessitate adaptation to various climates.


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