Appendix C: Archival Disposal Guidelines

The is a compilation of appraisal/disposal guidelines that have been developing over the past few years as based on the FPMR, GRS 21, and specific criteria from several appraisal projects. Cataloguers should become familiar with the general categories loosely divided into subject matter and physical format approach.

It must be stressed that these lists are only suggested guidelines for cataloguers and other staff members to pinpoint items already accessioned that may have slipped through and require reappraisal. This should lead to recommendations for disposal. Approval and review for disposal must be done by an archivist before any actual disposal is accomplished. Remember the goal is to re-evaluate this material before costly cataloguing and preservation work is performed.

Physical types of audiovisual records that may be destroyed:

  1. Audiovisual records that are extensively damaged. Examples are motion pictures with massive emulsion scratches throughout, or audio discs smashed or broken in more than three pieces. In effect, the audiovisual record is incomplete and unrecoverable.
  2. All nitrate or di-acetate motion pictures, or acetate audiotape recordings once an acceptable preservation copy has been made.
  3. Incomplete sets of audiovisual records such as motion pictures where either the sound track or picture track is missing, or audio recording that is incomplete, missing parts or disc sides etc. This would include motion picture trims, or film/video/audio out-takes and discards that lack proper identification or are so poorly arranged as to be unusable.
  4. Duplicates and other non-record materials. Includes duplication projection prints or audio disc/ tape copies. Includes music and effects tracks and other pre-mix sound elements where necessary preprint elements and copies for preservation are available. Includes magnetic sound tracks that have been transferred to optical, title and other effects mattes, and work prints of completed production.
  5. Audiovisual records that are technically inferior or unusable. Examples would be motion or video footage, which is poorly exposed or focused, or sound recordings that are unintelligible, or inaudible.

General subject-matter categories for audiovisual records that may be disposable:

  1. Audiovisual records whose subject matter is transitory in nature or purely of local interest. For example social gatherings, athletic events, or other activities not directly related to federal agency operations or responsibilities.

    • Sports including amateur and college sports, non-championship professional or matches, and regularly scheduled sports programs and commentaries.
    • All regularly scheduled entertainment or music programs broadcast on network or local radio or television.
    • All local, regional, or radio and television affiliate programming or coverage unless there are broader implications.
    • Coverage of disasters, weather stories, beauty and fashion show and human interest type stories.

  2. Scientific, medical, or engineering research films, videotapes, or sound recordings where similar data or findings are available in another format such as a report or publication.
  3. Audiovisual records documenting low-level administrative staff functions and ceremonial activities showing or recording award presentations and commendations.
  4. Highly technical instructional audiovisual items or managerial or personal training films/videotapes/audio recordings dealing with information or techniques that are widely available from other sources such as text books or technical manuals.
  5. Audio/video recordings of auditions, rehearsals, promotions, voice tests, recorded segments and bands for inserts.
  6. Audiovisual records of public relations or informational press activities of persons who are subordinate to heads of agencies.
  7. Audiovisuals records of interviews and panel discussions, lectures, or other items essentially lacking in pictorial information unless the personages appearing in the audiovisual record are likely to be subjects of pictorial, recorded, or historical research.
  8. Radio or television spots, PSAs, trailers, commercials, or advertisements, which by definition are too short to offer much in the way of research value. Selective items produced by Federal sources may be kept however.
  9. Foreign language versions of motion pictures/videotapes for which English language versions exist unless the foreign language was the original language of production.
  10. All textual finding aids and production case files for disposable audiovisual records.