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Musings of a librarian, former archivist, musician, bibliophile, and tech-obsessed.

Entries in Audiovisual (26)


Long Overdue Helpful Resources

Over the past month, I've received a few emails asking me about resources for various audiovisual digitization standards and workflows. Below is my response to the latest email, based on the research I have been performing to draft the UMD Libraries standards and guidelines over the past four months.

There are developing national standards for archiving audio and moving image media. A lot of the work in this area is being done at the Library of Congress, and I urge you to check out the standards that FADGI is developing:

You may also want to check out the huge project that the Indiana University Bloomington is undertaking on their campus: This is a follow-up to their involvement in the Sound Directions project, which does address a lot of difficulties that institutions (primarily large academic libraries) encounter in their audio archives (though it is applicable to other institutions on a much smaller scale:

The International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives has also addressed audio digitization and archiving from a technical level in addressed audio digitization and archiving from a technical level in IASA-TC 04:

The Audio Engineering Society (AES) and The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers have also put forward standards, though these are usually highly technical and difficult to translate into a non-production environment.

If you need a less technical site to understand formats, I highly recommend NDIIPP's Sustainability of Digital Formats site: The Technical Committees of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections and the Association of Moving Image Archivists have also put forward some helpful compilations of resources.

These resources primarily cover digitization and digital file standards, though Sound Directions and the newest publication from IUB, Meeting the Challenge of Media Preservation, do touch on metadata. FADGI has some drafts of metadata standards, and is supposed to be putting forward standards this year.

NARA is working on in-depth technical metadata standards for moving image media: The Library of Congress has had theirs for a while:

One thing to keep in mind is how video and audio metadata has been developed. PBCore was developed around Dublin Core metadata and is compatible with that schema. AMD and VMD from LC were designed around MODS and METS. The schema that you decide on should complement the metadata schema you already have in place, to prevent unnecessary metadata confusion and mapping.

Digital audio standards have been established between AES, ARSC, and IASA, and are now being improved upon, so we are fortunate in that.

As for capturing born-digital moving image materials, there is less publicly accessible documentation, but FADGI does have some resources. A new document was recently released concerning what is an archival format of video formats: Again, this is a draft, and most institutions may not be able to support the MXF/J2K format as well as .avi or .mov, but the document does give an idea as to the specifications and guidelines one should follow when creating, converting, or digitizing moving image. From my experience with records creators, establishing creation standards is essential so you don't have the favorite format and standard of whatever engineer you have on staff at the time, which is why what is in archives always varies greatly.

Lastly, I recommend checking out the Advanced Media Workflow Association for ideas about workflows: Their documents are especially helpful:

I am modeling our efforts on IUB's project, using many of the LC (NDIIPP and FADGI) standards. I would suggest starting there.


Celebrating World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2011!

I'm celebrating World Day for Audiovisual Heritage by going through the audiovisual stacks and doing a quick sniff-test survey. While we keep our stacks at a comfortable temperature for the media, some of the material was in unstable conditions before coming to the archives and needs to be monitored. Because I don't have the time to perform in-depth preservation surveys on our collections (except when processing), I've found that the sniff test does a pretty good job at detecting problems in the majority of our collections. Just recently, I discovered that some of our School of Music reels were on bad stock and were degrading. In the past year, I discovered some film from one collection that smelled fine last year is now starting to degrade. The films come from the same collection of films from which I isolated and froze 50 reels this summer.

Archivists need to be more aware of audiovisual materials in their collections, and doing quick preservation surveys are a great way to be proactive about issues. While this survey only addresses one of the many issues surrounding audiovisual media, it's definitely a start. I recommend using World Day for Audiovisual Heritage as a reminder to survey collections!


UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

October 27 is the UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. 


The Coordinating Council of Audio-Visual Archives Associations (CCAAA), which designated by UNESCO as the lead implementing body to organize the yearly celebration, has created a website for this event. 

The BBC has published an online collection about its own pioneers of the BBC Sound Archive.

The National Archives of Andorra participes in UNESCO's World Day for audiovisual Heritage 2010 with a short: The Audiovisual Collection of Antena 7 Television (A7 TV). A7TV is one on the first televisions in Andorra that presents the Andorran society since 1981 to 1991. The records held in the National Archives since 2003 are available for everyone to discover.

IU has commissioned the Media Preservation Initiative task force to create a solution for the long-term preservation of these valuable holdings as well as plans for greater access to these recordings, many of which are not accessible at present.  This special session, coinciding with World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, will serve as the public launch of the Media Preservation Initiative and will feature presentations that highlight IUB's media holdings and discuss the planning phase of the initiative. The presentation held from 4-5 today will stream live.


I Love A/V

I love being an a/v archivist! I get a lot of interesting questions, and my job functions change almost every day!

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a semi-local archivist asking about microfilm digitization. This week, I answered another archivist's questions about digitizing and preserving film.

This week began by checking out a "reel" player delivered while I was at SAA last week. I thought it was large reel, 1/4" reel audio player, based on the description by the person who delivered it, but it ended up being a computer data tape recorder... Similar to the untrained eye, but not what I need for my audio digitization station.

Right now, I'm researching standards for freezing acetate film and acetate and color negatives for our university library consortium's new freezers in the new off-site mass storage module. Today, I focused on film supplies, film supply carriers, found a new film preservation website (, sponsored by AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists), and laughed to myself when I imagined proposing buying heavy-duty ziploc freezer bags to the committee in October. Two freezer bags are needed to seal each film canister so that ice crystals don't freeze on the film. And no, there are not special freezer bags for this--even the National Film Preservation Foundation recommends plain, ordinary, heavy-duty ziploc freezer bags! Film Forever focuses on home collections and what individuals can do, and gave recommendations to freeze home movies in a second freezer in your house. They illustrated this with am image similar to the old chest freezer in my parent's basement! At some point, I could see myself doing this to old family 8mm silent films.


It's Cool To See It In Print...