IASA 2018 Special Recognition Award to Carl Fleischhauer

Congratulations to Carl Fleischhauer on receiving the 2018 IASA Special Recognition Award, announced last fall by IASA President, Toby Seay, at the annual conference in Ghana. 

The following tribute was written by Carl’s colleagues and fellow IASA members, including Bertram Lyons, Kate Murray, and Judith Gray:

The winner of this year's IASA award is an individual who has contributed to the documentation and preservation of cultural heritage for over 40 years, starting in the early 1970s working in television and film production at a West Virginia public-television station in the United States and continuing from 1976 until just last year when he retired officially from a 41 year career at the US Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

During his early career, while serving as a folklife specialist in ethnographic media documentation at the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center, Carl Fleischhauer contributed to the creation of documentary collections as well as to their long-term preservation. In 1990, he began working on the digital collection for the Library's first large-scale multi-media access platform, American Memory, shifting his focus from the production of documents to the preservation of them in publicly accessible form.

Among the millions of documents he helped expose to ever-widening audiences are some that he himself produced for the American Folklife Center in the late 1970s while participating as the major photographer on multiple field projects, including a field-study project on the Buckaroo culture of northern Nevada, and the Omaha powwow. Even now, in 2018, more of his work from the 1970s and 1980s has been added to the Library of Congress digital collections including efforts with Chicago Ethnic Arts, Montana Folklife, South-Central Georgia, and Rhode Island with more to come.

In the early 2000s, Carl was among the team that led the creation of a digital repository for recorded sound and moving images collections which would ultimately be installed in the Library of Congress' National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia, which opened in 2003.

Carl then turned his attention more generally to digital preservation at the Library of Congress where he began the development of the Library's Sustainability of Digital Formats research, along with collaborator Caroline Arms. The site provides information about digital content formats through detailed format description documents. The initial result of this work was published in 2004 but continues to be added to today.

Still growing and diving deeper into digital preservation, Carl took on a leadership role in 2007 in the development of the Federal Agencies Digital (was: Digitization) Guidelines Initiative (fondly called FADGI). FADGI is a collaborative effort started in 2007 by federal agencies to articulate common sustainable practices and guidelines for digitized and born digital historical, archival and cultural content. Two working groups study issues specific to two major areas, Still Image and Audio-Visual. Under Carl's direction, FADGI released groundbreaking guidance for image and audiovisual digitization, metadata requirements, as well as free and open-source tools such as BWF MetaEdit and AVI MetaEdit.

It was Carl's work with FADGI that ultimately led him to IASA in 2008/2009. While patient and considerate, as is Carl's way, Carl's entrance into the IASA community was a fortuitous event. As Carl worked closely with his FADGI colleagues on the development of an MXF specification for the archival community, his unquenchable desire to learn resulted in him becoming a central figure in the conversation around digital video preservation. Building on the success of IASA-TC 04 (Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects), IASA's TC felt a certain pressure to deliver a sister guideline to address the preservation of video. As early as 2011, the TC began work to draft what would become IASA-TC 06 (Guidelines for the Preservation of Video Recordings). Progress with IASA-TC 06 was slow, however, and by 2015 the TC saw that a comprehensive guideline could not be assembled within a reasonable timespan. Having been a driving force in keeping the momentum of TC 06 alive since the initial 2011 efforts, it was Carl, who developed a plan to complete TC 06 in two editions, and executed the plan with great detail and care to bring the first edition of TC 06 to fruition as of June 2018. Although working with a team of core authors, co-collaborators, and the IASA-TC, it was certainly due to Carl's unflagging, thorough, and careful efforts that this long awaited document was produced.

Carl retired from the Library of Congress in 2017, but has been volunteering two days a week in the American Folklife Center ever since, principally working to improve metadata for the field project websites mentioned earlier.

Perhaps Carl’s greatest legacy is that of mentorship. Many of us in IASA and beyond have benefitted from his generosity of spirit, patience and knowledge sharing. No question is unwelcome, no interruption inconvenient, no task too daunting. Carl’s leadership has set the high bar for helping new and longtime colleagues mature in their skills and experience.

For his gracious services supporting the preservation of global audiovisual heritage and audiovisual preservation practitioners; for his selfless leadership in the advancement and recognition of IASA; and for his extraordinary vision and perseverance to organize, coordinate, draft, and compile TC 06: Guidelines for the Preservation of Video Recordings, the IASA Executive Board is honored to name Carl Fleischhauer as this year's recipient of the IASA Special Recognition Award.

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