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!