Information Bulletin no. 26, July 1998

New members

IASA is delighted to welcome this quarter one new institutional member and two individual members.

Radet for Folkemusikk og Folkedans, Dragvoll, Norway, is a substantial audio-visual archive supporting practical activities associated with Norwegian folk music and dance. It holds 50,000 tapes (including DAT), 5,000 films, 13,000 videos, 11,000 photographs and maintains a register of 7000 names.

Dr Craig Fees runs the Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre at Toddington, near Cheltenham, U.K. The archive, currently described as "small", promotes research and understanding of open systems in therapeutic and other settings. The main subjects covered include therapeutic communities, milieu therapy and democratic/alternative education.

And Kurt Deggeller, formerly representing the Fonoteca Nazionale Svizzera, has now re-joined as an individual member.

Professor Scharlau

Ulf Scharlau, Head of the Department of Documentation and Archives at Süddeutscher Rundfunk (South German Broadcasting), Stuttgart, Germany, has been appointed Honorary Professor by the Ministry of Sciences, Research and Arts. Since 1992 he has been giving lectures on Media Documentation in Broadcasting at the Hochschule für Bibliotheks- und Informationswesen Stuttgart (University of Library and Information Studies, Stuttgart). Ulf has been an active member of IASA since 1974, serving on the Executive Board from 1978 to 1990 during which time he was also President of IASA (1984-1987).

April in Paris spells decision time for tape collections

George Boston reports on the Consultation of Audio Archivists with Manufacturers of Analogue Audio Tape Machines on the Preservation of Access to the Audio Heritage of the World which took place on April 23rd, 1998 at the Headquarters of UNESCO in Paris.

In the 1970s the future for audio collections felt very safe. Magnetic tape was a secure carrier. LP discs offered a good quality of reproduction. Then came news of the vinegar syndrome and binder degradation. The position of magnetic tape as a secure storage carrier became less secure. The 1980s witnessed increasing debates about carrier decay. This to some extent masked some of the implications of the arrival of digital formats. Although a number of writers considered machinery obsolescence as a factor in evaluating digital formats for archival purposes, the great improvement in audio quality offered by CD’s and DAT tape distracted us.

When the videotape world was hit by the sudden withdrawal of support for the 2-inch quadruplex format, audio archivists became much more aware of the danger that the obsolescence of equipment posed to their collections. There was suddenly a lot more uncertainty with regard to the security of the world’s audio heritage.

Organisation of the Consultation
At the 1997 IASA Annual Conference in Oman, the Technical Committee discussed the problem posed by the reduction in the number of manufacturers of analogue tape machines. After the Conference, I proposed to Dietrich Schüller that IASA should organise a consultation meeting with the remaining manufacturers. Dietrich agreed with the proposal and we approached the IASA Executive Board for their support. This was given and Dietrich and I then began to make the practical arrangements.

Initial contacts were made with every one of the known remaining manufacturers. The majority - five companies - responded favourably to the idea. A small number of archives were invited to send a representative to the consultation meeting (the numbers were restricted simply to prevent the manufacturers from feeling overwhelmed): Peter Copeland of the British Library National Sound Archive, Clifford Harkness of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Jean-Marc Fontaine and Joelle Garcia of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Dietrich Schüller and myself represented the archival case and were supported by Sven Allerstrand, Albrecht Häfner, Magdalena Cséve and Gerry Gibson of the IASA Executive Board. The industry was represented by Nagra Kudelski of Switzerland, Otari of Japan, STM Kft of Hungary, Studer of Switzerland and Tascam/TEAC of Japan.

The meeting was held in Paris on April 23rd at the same time as the IASA mid-year Board meeting. Joie Springer of the General Information Programme (PGI) was approached to see if UNESCO would support the IASA initiative and she kindly arranged for a meeting room to be made available at UNESCO Headquarters.

Aim of the Consultation
The aim of the Consultation was to examine and discuss ways in which those concerned with archiving the world’s audio heritage could work together with the remaining manufacturers of analogue magnetic tape machines to achieve an orderly withdrawal of support for the quarter-inch analogue magnetic tape format.

The archives wished to see an extended period of support for the format to enable them to migrate their collections of audio recordings to new formats. The manufacturers wanted to obtain a reasonable commercial return for their role in the task. By working together, it was hoped that an understanding that met the requirements of both parties could be achieved.

To provide some background information to reinforce the argument that analogue tape machines had to be kept in working order for many years, a questionnaire was sent to a small sample of archive technicians around the world. The response was excellent. 25 questionnaires were sent out; 29 (!) replies were received. As a veteran of organising questionnaires, this was the best response I have ever had. I must thank those that participated for their replies.

While some of the questions were more suited to a fortune-teller with a crystal ball than an archivist, the questionnaire also sought practical answers such as information about the size of collections, the period of time that working analogue tape machines would be required, the types of machines owned and a statement of the range and likely requirements for spare parts to enable the machines to be kept running for this period of time. A summary of the replies was prepared for distribution at the meeting.

The size of collections responding to the questionnaire ranged from 500 hours to 350,000 hours. The collections totalled 2,112,133 hours of tape but, more interesting, the estimated machine time required to transfer the sounds and also to continue the normal working of the collections was estimated as a total of 3,811,500 machine hours. And remember that these totals are from only 29 collections. If an attempt is made to produce a full inventory of the audio tape holdings of the world, the resulting figures will be very much greater. This background information helped the manufacturers representatives to grasp the magnitude of the problems facing the audio archive community. It also made them aware of a potential market that they had not previously considered.

The desired future life of the quarter inch format ranged from a minimum of 2 years to a minimum of 100 years. To some extent this variation reflected the size of the collections - the larger ones wanted more time to transfer the recordings to a new format. The average period was about 30 years and the period that would satisfy 95 % of the respondents was 50 years. Another less obvious factor for the variation may be the progress made by the various institutions in preparing for the migration of the collections. One large collection said that it would want support for the format for a minimum of 50 years once a policy had been defined.

Information about the types of machines used was also sought. Twenty five different makes of tape machine were included in the replies with a total of over 55 different models of machines. Unlike the tape duration figures, these numbers will not greatly increase if a larger survey is made. They are, however, still remarkable figures. It means that only 20% of tape machine makers are still making analogue tape machines.

Manufacturers’ Future Plans
Each manufacturer gave an outline of its policy for the future. All the manufacturers have reduced the range of new machines. They also have limited support for models no longer in production. Each of the five, however, is keeping one or two models in production for the foreseeable future and has given assurances about the future support of these machines.

Nagra Kudelski - apart from the Nagra I and III, all Nagra models were to be kept in production. A simpler version of the Nagra T (the studio machine) was currently being developed and would be available later in 1998. As all mechanical parts were made by Nagra, the future supply of spares for these would not be a problem. Nagra would supply replacement circuit boards if obsolescence of electronic components forced a re-design.

Otari of Japan - Otari’s policy was that spare parts were guaranteed for five years after a machine was withdrawn from the product line. In practice, spares were available for much longer but the availability of a particular item could not be assured. Two machines are currently in production - the MP15 and the MX55 - and there were no plans to cease production at the moment.

STM Kft - STM was the major supplier of tape machines to Eastern Europe for many years. It is still producing a range of new machines and will maintain supplies of spare parts for older machines for several years.

Studer - Studer currently produces only one machine - the A807. The policy is to guarantee spare parts for 10 years after a models ceases production. This means that, for example, spares for the A80, which ceased production in 1989, will not be assured after this year. If electronic components become unavailable, Studer will re-design the circuit boards and will supply a replacement board that will fit the machine and do the job.

Tascam/TEAC - Tascam is the professional arm of TEAC. The company now produces one model - the BR20. This is, however, available in several versions. Spare parts are still being supplied for machines that ceased production 25 years ago. Each main dealer holds a supply of spares and has access to a company-wide network to help trace spares held by other dealers.

Understandings Reached
To assist the manufacturers, IASA will supply information about the membership of the association.

IASA will endeavour to obtain detailed information about the likely requirements for new analogue tape machines and for spare parts from its members. The results of the research will be made available to the manufacturers. This will require a more extensive survey of the members of IASA than was undertaken prior to the Consultation.

The manufacturers will keep IASA informed about the range of machines in production. In addition, information about the likely production life of the models will also be supplied. IASA will supply its members with this information in the Journal and other publications.

The manufacturers will provide IASA with an advance warning when a model is about to cease production. IASA will inform its members of such impending action to allow them to place last orders for any machines that may be required. The manufacturers will advise IASA of the period for which spare parts will be available for obsolete machines. IASA will publish the information for the benefit of its members.

The Technical Committee will maintain contact with the manufacturers and will advise the members of IASA of any changes in the supply of new machines or spare parts. It is clear, however, that the day of the quarter-inch analogue tape machine is drawing to a close. The end will not be sudden as happened with the two-inch videotape but it is still certain. This means that the Technical Committee will have to discuss what advice it can offer the members of IASA about future storage technologies.

It is clear that these future storage technologies will be digital - but in what form? The contenders fall into two groups - the discrete audio carrier that we are used to and the mass storage system. The first group includes the CD and R-DAT formats and does not greatly change the way that a collection is organised. The second means a complete re-evaluation of the way that an archive is organised and run.

Members are advised to start considering the future of their collections now while there is time. If the questions are left until later, it may be too late to make a considered choice and too late to successfully migrate the sounds to a new storage format.

IASA relations with Branches and Affiliates examined

At the mid-year meeting Paris, the IASA Executive Board received a review by Past President James McCarthy, Chair of the National Branches and Affiliated Organisations Committee (NAOC), entitled IASA’s affiliations and branch structures as the start of a dialogue between the NAOC and the Board which aims to clarify the relative standing of the various international and national/regional organisations with rich IASA regularly deals. It is clear that new measures need to be taken to harmonise the relationships with sister associations such as SEAPAVAA, AFAS and ARSC and to address the clear discrepancy that exists within almost all of the Branches between full and non-members of the international IASA body.

It can be argued that the health of a particular branch in terms of membership and activity has a direct impact on the health of the organisation as a whole but views in support of that argument vary from region to region. The degree to which Branch activity impacts on IASA at the moment is, for instance, largely dependent on its members are engaging with digitisation. If the interests of the Branch are largely discographical or become temporarily dominated by a particular subject matter, such a oral history (as happened briefly with the UK Branch BASC in the late 1980s and from which state it has yet to recover) then members will be less inclined to engage in the full international agenda. However, they will nevertheless remain active and their activities may change, in which case it may be advisable for IASA to relax its insistence on a high ratio of members to non-members.

There is plenty more to discuss and the Board expects to be further engaged with James’s paper in Paris this November. The Board intends o discuss the most urgent problems with the chairpersons of all branches and affiliations during the pre- or post-conference programme but should any of you, particularly those of you who are active in Branch business, have any views or ideas then I am sure James would be delighted to hear from you, either directly (e-mail or via this Bulletin.

Web for IASA Cataloguing Rules

At its mid-year meeting, the IASA Executive Board received the Cataloguing Rules Working Group’s recommendations for publication.

Following the success of the draft version which has been present on the IASA web site since January this year, it was decided that this would remain the chief means of publication, albeit in an enhanced html version, and that hard copies would be printed off at relatively low cost to the buyer on demand. The final recommendation for the Board’s consideration is now in hand and is expected to be approved this summer so that the Group can finalise the work of nearly five years at its pre-meeting in Paris this November.

The Editorial Group reports that 37 responses to the Cataloguing Rules draft were received from around the world in the commenting period between January and March this year. At its mid-year meeting held at The British Library’s new St Pancras premises the Editorial Group discussed these responses, planned revisions to the draft and finalised the work plan to complete the project.

The Editorial Group wishes to thank all those who took time and trouble to send in comments on the draft, the National Sound Archive for hosting the meeting and the IASA Executive Board for assistance with travel.

NSA re-opens listening and viewing service

The Editor, who is also Head of Public Services for the National Sound Archive (NSA) reports:

On May 12th the National Sound Archive (NSA) re-opened its playback service (now named the Listening and Viewing Service) at the British Library’s new and widely-acclaimed St Pancras building in Euston Road. So, just over two and a half years after the British Library announced that it wished to move the National Sound Archive out of South Kensington and after a brief closure period of five weeks, the full range of NSA public services are again available but now on considerably better terms. Opening hours have been extended to all evenings, except Fridays, and we also stay open on Saturdays, a long-standing wish of our listeners which we were never able to fulfil at Exhibition Road.

Providing a centrally-controlled playback service to listeners and viewers in study carrels in a very complicated and highly specialised building which was never designed to accommodate audio-visual services has not been easy and I am hoping that my colleagues in NSA technical services, Peter Copeland and Hugh Mash can be persuaded to write up some of the solutions to the problems they tackled for the benefit of the IASA membership.

The last sound heard by the public at the old Exhibition Road site was a Columbia recording of the soprano Eileen Farrell. The first at St Pancras was a selection of traditional music from Central and Northern Italy, somewhat in keeping with the Italianate features of the interior of the new building.

ASRA dons Shamrock and Wattle

James McCarthy sends this report from Australia:

"The annual conference of ASRA took place in Canberra at the National Library of Australia between the 16th and 19th of April. The theme was the sounds of Irish-Australian popular culture, under the romantic title of The Shamrock and the Wattle.

The conference was preceded by a one-day technical workshop, Sound Archiving: Described. This was organised by Kevin Bradley of the NLA, and drew on the skills of many professionals working in the sound collections of the library, the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), the Australian War Memorial and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. They were practically based sessions and drew about 70 delegates. This focus on the future of sound archiving has been encouraged by ASRA in recent years and is seen as a way forward in re-defining the work of the association. It was a very successful exercise and will form a major part of our future conferences.

Dr Jeff Brownrigg of the NFSA organised the more traditional part of the conference, which began on Friday the 17th. We were welcomed in the great foyer of the library (where many IASA members would recall the opening ceremony of the 1992 IASA/ASRA Conference) by the Director-General of the library Warren Horton. Pat Bourke represented the Irish Ambassador and we had a welcome in Gaelic as well as English. It was a very agreeable beginning to an excellent conference.

The keynote address was given by Brian Kennedy, an Irishman, and the newly appointed director of the National Gallery. His address was absorbing and thought provoking. Jeff Brownrigg then gave a paper, Irish Teaching Orders and Australian Divas: the Irish Australian Nightingales (and others) on disc and cylinder. Robyn Holmes from ANU Music spoke about Alfred O’Shea, Bruce Skilton from the NFSA dealt will pianist Eileen Joyce: Filmstar of the Soundtrack, and Ron White presented the recordings of Peter O’Shaugnessy. There were many more presentations along similar lines and at the conference dinner we celebrated the recipients of the 1988 ASRA Awards for Excellence.

Dr David Rentz, of the CSIRO Division of Entomology, for his contribution to nature sound recordings, and Cyrus Meher-Homji, for his contribution to classical music and recordings in Australia.

The old committee was re-elected with James McCarthy standing down as President and Dr Jeff Brownrigg the new incumbent. Jeff is encouraging us to look at least two years ahead in the planning of our conferences as a means of maximising publicity and enlarging our constituency."

Piloting Australia’s culture

The Pilot of Australia's Cultural Network is now online at

Australia’s Cultural Network is a public access gateway to Australian cultural organisations, resources, activities and events. It is also an exchange centre for resources, ideas and information where cultural workers and organisations can communicate with each other to improve and develop their use of online services. Currently a search for the term "audio-visual" retrieves more than 400 documents including policy statements from IASA member archives.

Over 500 Australian cultural websites and over 400 current events are available through the site’s Website finder and Event finder respectively. Cultural organisations can add their websites and cultural events to the network’s databases.

Australia’s Cultural Network is an initiative of the Australian Government and is managed by the Australian Federal Department of Communications and the Arts. The website was launched officially by the Australian Federal Minister for Communications, the Information Economy and the Arts on 15 April 1998 in Sydney, Australia.

Erasmus and Socrates in Bergen

The following announcement has been received of an international conference to be held in Bergen, Norway, September 25-28, 1998. Entitled The future of the humanities in the digital age: problems and perspectives for humanities education and research, the main topics included will be:

  • Humanities in the information society

  • International sharing of resources

  • Curriculum innovation in the humanities

  • The virtual university

  • International humanities scholarship facilities

The conference is an initiative of the SOCRATES/ERASMUS thematic network project on Advanced Computing in the Humanities and the SOCRATES ODL project EUROLITERATURE. The event is supported by the European Commission, the Norwegian Ministry of Education, the University of Bergen and the City of Bergen.

For more information, see The deadline for submissions has already passed.

Confront your image in Newcastle upon Tyne

The IASA newsdesk has recently received a call for papers for the Second UK Conference on Image Retrieval The Challenge of Image Retrieval to be held February 25-26, 1999 at the Forte Post House Hotel, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.

The Challenge of Image Retrieval conference held in February 1998 was the first UK forum set up specifically to bridge the gap between the different communities with an interest in image retrieval. Building on the success of this first conference, the 1999 event again aims to bring together researchers and practitioners in the fast-growing area of image retrieval, to exchange information and gain some idea of the significance of developments in related disciplines. It should be of interest to researchers in fields as diverse as information retrieval, database, computer vision and image processing, human visual perception and interface design, as well as users and managers of image and video libraries.

The keynote speaker will be Dr Michael Swain from the Alta Vista development team at Digital Equipment Corporation, who will talk on Image searching on the Web.

See for more details.

Authors are asked to submit full papers (no longer than 5000 words), in English, to the Programme Chair, Professor David Harper. Electronic submission is strongly encouraged. Submissions should follow the style laid down for Springer-Verlag's electronic Workshops in Computing, which can be found at Authors are asked to follow the electronic submission guidelines set out at Authors who are unable to submit electronically are asked to send three papers copies of their article, together with a covering letter containing contact information, to:

Professor David Harper
The Challenge of Image Retrieval
School of Computer and Mathematical Sciences
Robert Gordon University
Aberdeen AB25 1HG.

The closing date for both electronic and paper submissions is Friday 30 October 1998.

Vienna Conference

The 30th annual conference of IASA will take place in Vienna 18th - 23rd September 1999 on the occasion of the centennial of the Phonogrammarchiv.

U.S. court rejects fair use defence in copyright case

Gerry Gibson (Library of Congress) has drawn our attention to the following U.S. Court action. The original report was by Eric J. Olson.

"In a decision that could serve as a warning to publishers, a federal judge in has upheld a copyright infringement claim involving the use of a single still photo culled from a motion picture.

Richard Feiner & Co. was granted summary judgement Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New York against HRI Industries, which owns the Hollywood Reporter, for copyright infringement on the use of a Laurel & Hardy motion picture still that the paper ran in a March 1997 issue.

According to Gregory A. Sioris, the attorney representing Feiner, the most significant part of the ruling is the court’s rejection of the "fair use" defence to copyright infringement.

In rejecting HRI’s argument that the use of one still photo from an underlying work is de minimis, or legally insignificant, and therefore a fair use, the decision set an important precedent, reversing traditional fair use guidelines followed by magazines and newspapers.

The ruling, which covers only the southern district of New York in which the case was heard, can still be appealed by HRI. Executives at the Hollywood Reporter could not be reached for comment.

Feiner, who is the sole copyright holder and licensor for several Laurel & Hardy movies, initially sued HRI in October last year over the use of a motion picture still of Laurel & Hardy from their silent film Liberty' which is one of the films he owns. The photo shows the two comedians in a precarious predicament on top of a high-rise building under construction.

According to court documents, the newspaper bought the photo from Bison Archives, a stock photo agency. Both parties agreed that the photo was originally used as a promotional still for the MGM movie Laurel & Hardy’s Laughing 20’s. The Hollywood Reporter colorized the photo and ran it in a ‘Crafts Series’ section in its March 12, 1997 issue. The paper credited Bison as the source of the photo.

After Feiner sued the Hollywood Reporter, the paper moved to dismiss Feiner’s complaint on several grounds including copyright permission by MGM, public domain and fair use. The court rejected all these defences in its opinion granting summary judgment."

Sites and sounds

The UK academic sector’s Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) has recently incorporated some important guidelines for digital information. Standards for the Interchange of Digital Information provides access to information about standards and best practices for the interchange of digital information. Digital Preservation the AHDS list of information resources and initiatives of relevance to those interested in the preservation of digital resources has been substantially extended and updated.

Paul Geffen of Microsoft maintains a homepage which includes a Directory of Classical labels, To help collectors find sources for the recordings listed on the pages, he has compiled lists of record labels and distributors including the address of the publisher and in many cases a US (or UK) distributor or other source for the label. A few of the labels have their own Web sites, and links are provided when possible.

The UK Society of Archivists has formed a film and sound group. Details of their activities and aims can be found at [Is this where BASC’s membership has ended up? ed.]

Famous figures from the history of recorded sound are attractive to list makers on the Web. One excellent example discovered by you Editor recently was a detailed listing of recordings conducted by Willem Mengelberg

Calendar of events

Date Event Location
Aug IFLA Council and General Conference Amsterdam
Aug 31 - Sep 4 "KnowRight 98": XV IFIP World Computer Conference/ 2nd International Conference on intellectual property rights & free flow of information Budapest
Sep 26 - 29 AES Convention San Francisco
Sep 27 - Oct 1 FIAT Conference & General Assembly Florence
November 15 - 20 IASA Annual Conference Paris
November FIAF Executive Committee San Juan, Puerto Rico
March SEAPAVAA Annual Conference Kuala Lumpur
April FIAF Annual Congress Madrid
July 18 - 24 IAML Annual Conference Wellington, New Zealand
August IFLA Council and General Conference Bangkok
August 19 - 25 ICTM World Conference Hiroshima
September FIAT/IFTA Conference Rio de Janeiro
September 18 - 23 IASA Annual Conference Vienna
November FIAF Executive Committee Toulouse
April FIAF Annual Conference London
August 6 - 11 IAML Annual Conference Edinburgh
August IFLA Council and General Conference Jerusalem
November FIAF Executive Committee New York

This Information Bulletin was compiled by:

The Editor of IASA, Chris Clark,
The British Library National Sound Archive, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB, UK,
tel. 44 171 412 7411, fax 44 171 412 7413, e-mail,

Elsebeth Kirring, Statsbiblioteket, Universitetsparken, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark,
tel. 45 8946 2055, fax 45 8946 2050, e-mail

Printed in Budapest, Hungary

In particular, you are urged to notify IASA (via this Bulletin, or via the Secretary General) of any changes to the contact details printed in the current IASA Directory.