The British Columbia Audiovisual Inventory Initiative (BC AVII): A Survey of Audiovisual Materials and Playback Machines in BC
Keywords:audiovisual, media, archives, preservation, archivists
In British Columbia today, thousands of important historical and cultural audiovisual (AV) items are in danger of being lost forever to degradation and obsolescence. AV materials are valuable to researchers and the general public alike, and the value will only increase as society becomes less text-based and more digital.
In order to devise a provincial strategy for preservation of these at-risk materials, it is important to first know their quantity and condition, as well as what the perceptions and attitudes are towards acquiring, cataloguing, digitizing and preserving them. With this goal in mind, the University of British Columbia Archives and the Audio-Visual Heritage Association of British Columbia (AVBC) partnered to create a high-level inventory and get a snapshot of the current status of AV in BC.
An online survey was designed and sent out to BC memory institutions. 252 valid responses were received, with 65.9% belonging to institutions identifying as Libraries, Archives, Museums or Historical Societies. Cost was perceived as the largest barrier for the preservation of AV materials, followed by equipment, time, resources, etc. Many expressed frustration at a lack of prioritization for these materials within their institutions, leading to a complicated cycle of degradation that ultimately results in the materials being left in boxes collecting dust. Another troubling finding was the large number of materials in unknown condition and institutions often not having the resources or expertise to even know where to start with the preservation process.
Several recommendations were made for next steps in developing a strategy for saving AV in BC. These included forming a task force to develop a strategic plan, developing a centralized provincial response, providing online community support, and hosting training and education workshops. On the ground level, memory institutions have been doing what they can with the resources available, however with more awareness and support, AV preservation needs in BC are attainable.
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