Information Bulletin no. 34, July 2000

Singapore resolutions

At the final joint session of the Singapore conference in July, three resolutions were adopted and will form the basis for future collaboration between the two associations, IASA and SEAPAVAA as well as informing their respective strategies.

1. IASA and SEAPAVAA believe there is an urgent need to develop the CCAAA [Co-ordinating Council of Audio-visual Archives Associations] as an effective co-ordinating body for the strategic development of the global audio-visual archiving sector. Both associations are keen to play an active and appropriate role within this Council, and urge UNESCO to afford it due support and recognition on a par with existing levels of support for the libraries, archives and museums peak bodies.

2. IASA and SEAPAVAA support the principle of the adequate and equitable development of audio-visual archiving skills and infrastructure in all countries of the world. The audio-visual memory of the 21st century should be truly and equitably reflective of all nations and cultures: the failures of the 20th century to secure this memory in many parts of the world must not be repeated. This principle is consistent with the development of mutual support and encouragement which are part of the raison d'être of both associations.

3. IASA and SEAPAVAA recognise that the emerging profession of audio-visual archiving now requires the recognition and availability of formal professional training at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. This will improve options for the personal development of existing practitioners and it will also open the way for young people to pursue a long term career in the profession. We encourage the development of existing and future programs to this end.

Singapore Diary

IASA Vice President John Spence (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) kept a journal of the IASA - SEAPAVAA Conference, 2000 A future for the past:

Saturday 1 July. I woke early, still living on Sydney time. But instead of the sort of Australian winter weather that gets in your bones at this time of year, slows the flow of your blood and demands that you stay in a warm bed for just ten minutes more … instead of that, it was hot, steamy and exotic. For I had woken up in that former colonial jewel of Southeast Asia, the current high-tech hub of the region: Singapore. Day 1 was taken up with the IASA Executive Board meeting which took us through to lunch-time the next day. We worked in the deceptive air conditioning of the National Archives of Singapore building, an old colonial school that once had a narrow educational remit, but which now cares for the past and the future of this flourishing island state.

Sunday 2 July. Now feeling the mood of Asia with rice and local delicacies in our stomachs we tackled day 2 with vigour. Colleagues were arriving from the four corners of the world to attend committee and section meetings. The Board started counting the delegates, took stock and started asking “why so few?” IASA attendance aside, the numbers had risen to 183 and an enthusiastic and exciting conference beckoned. We had a first glimpse of the conference venue the internationally famous Hotel Inter-Continental. In this case the new but tastefully colonial architectural feel encouraged us to believe we had stepped back in time. Our first contact with the conference organisers immediately inspired confidence they were super-efficient and friendly. Our conference bags were packed full of interesting goodies and each new compartment led us to another delight or educational guide or exquisitely designed invitation. The real event was about to begin.

Monday 3 July, 0900: The true story was gradually revealed as IASA delegates made their way to the first General Assembly. Approximately 48 of us had made the long trek to Singapore, some of the usual suspects plus a number of new faces from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Finland and Norway. Lunch, the first of many, delivered the promise of many voyages of culinary discovery ahead for a number of our European colleagues. Also new for our band of colonial adventurers was the formality that was to pervade the conference. Board members headed swiftly back to their hotel rooms to floss the teeth and don a tie and jacket for the opening ceremony. The guest of honour, Mr Lee Yock Suan, the Singapore Minister for Information and the Arts and Minister for the Environment, guaranteed us plenty of publicity. Flashes flashed, TV cameras whirled and we all stood or sat in appointed places as the grandness of the occasion unfolded. We were, the Minister assured us, at a geographical and professional point of convergence. This theme was taken up by Trond Valberg in his keynote address. Trond's message was to do with managing communication in the 3rd millennium the internet was already changing the way the world communicates, how archives communicate their message. But Trond did not merely offer us one dimensional communication. He was on-line to some of the latest web sites sites that were leading the way into the new age. We all left the auditorium stimulated and excited by the statuesque Norwegian from Mo I Rana. A big man with big ideas.

The evening was like a drug-induced dream. We were at the Singapore Art Museum. It was the cocktail hour and we were in a glass room with huge psychedelic glass mushrooms growing out of the wall. The champagne flowed and speakers praised a newly launched book on the film industry of the Asia Pacific region. If we ever doubted that this was going to be an audio visual conference this occasion dispelled that misconception: we were a multi-media gathering.

Tuesday 4 July: The celebrations of America's national day did not go unnoticed but the conference was focused on two issues at 9 am: selection and deselection. Crispin Jewitt and Kwek-Chew Kim Gek led us respectively through the audio visual selection policies of the British Library National Sound Archive the Singapore National Archives. Then it was the turn of four speakers to present cases for deselection: for preservation, through political intervention, disposal and repatriation. Magdalena Cseve (Hungarian Radio) told her story of interventionist government for the first time at a IASA conference, and Ray Edmondson (ScreenSound Australia) created a little tension by wondering aloud why more archival institutions had not followed his institution's lead in repatriating recordings that were more appropriately housed in other institutions.

The first of the technical sessions brought an update from George Boston on the state of play with tape and tape machine manufacture. It is not just that time is running out for magnetic tape. The writing is on the wall for machines as well; in fact the tape will outlast the availability of machines. George warned us we have about fifteen years to copy the thirty million hours of archival material that is stored world-wide on magnetic tape. Let's get cracking! Jim Lindner (VidiPax, USA) added to the pessimism of the session: if you think the rate of technological change is rapid now, wait till you see what the television and video industries have planned. Jim believes that AV archivists need to be on their toes to respond to changes such as the introduction of digital TV and the fact that the PC (personal computer) is becoming a capture, editing system and display system. Jim thinks we need to examine our strengths and weaknesses; don't try and do everything; decide on what formats you accept and what will be rejected, but be flexible. Finally, Dietrich Schüller (Phonogrammarchiv, Vienna) presented the case for an affordable digital mass storage system. Though 1-terabyte systems are too small for archives, they are not that much cheaper than the larger capacity systems. With so much potential in so many fields of information management he is hopeful that this situation will change.

The afternoon enticed delegates to visit local radio and TV stations: smart, modern and air-conditioned.

Wednesday 5 July: As the conference hotted up, delegates had to make some hard decisions. Joint sessions meant that you heard about research archives or archiving in tropical countries; copyright or developing the profession; cataloguing or acquisition. The session on research archives presented us with a truly international and exotic serving: the Aborigines of Australia, black suburbs of Capetown, the thousands of islands of Indonesia. In conclusion five panellists squared off in a role play of field researchers and archives responding to complaints from each other and reaching a greater understanding of each others' jobs and concerns in the process. The copyright session placed metadata centre-stage. Dr Jane Hunter (DSTC, University of Queensland) brought a professional's definition and view of metadata models to a packed house. In fact, it was concern for rights management that gave metadata some context during this session. InterTrust's Nic Garnett delivered a paper that, whilst not free of commercial interest, attempted to offer a solution to a particular problem for the entrepreneurial AV archive. InterTrust's 'technologically agnostic' software solution offers a DRM (digital rights management) solution that will track a digital asset from creation to billing. Edwin van Huis from the Netherlands Audio-visual Archive (NAA) would benefit from such a system. Edwin believes that nowadays the rights holders have more power than ever before and that archives have less space for manoeuvre. Important solutions for the NAA followed on from negotiation with the rights holders and persuading them to see things from the archive's perspective. They also negotiated central agreements with rights holders' organisations; they improved their internal rights administration and, for their clients, they offered a one-stop shop where access and clearance were settled according to their clients' timetable.

To misquote Robert Frost: 'two roads diverged in the Inter Continental, and sorry I could not choose both, long I stood and looked into one ballroom past the acquirers, but then took the other less populated, just as fair and promising of copyright matters'. It may make all the difference. For we heard of Singapore TV's BLISS catalogue with its one-stop search capability, offering multimedia support, remote access and internet enabled. And Chris Clark of the British Library National Sound Archive briefed us on the preparations for presenting their catalogue, CADENSA, on the Web. It was never going to be simple taking a reading room database to the world wide web. Both presenters stressed the motto: know and understand your users and understand what you wish to offer them. And, just when you thought that metadata had been left behind that morning, two Australians came along with their own unique perspective on the subject just to prove that metadata is hegemonic. The National Library of Australia is leading the way in our profession by developing metadata standards for preservation. Check it out on their website <>.

After this heavy day we still had time to visit the National Archives of Singapore. A grand tour of the facilities gave their staff ample opportunity to show that their expertise was not confined to conference organisation. But this was not the end of the day. In almost the words of Frost: 'the hotel room was cool, dark and inviting but there were miles to go before we could sleep'. The museums of Singapore beckoned and offered a rich banquet of cultural delights.

Thursday 6 July: Dietrich Schüller took the podium once more to chair a technical session dosed with video as well as audio. Firstly, Dr Chong Man Nang (Revival Digital) gave a product endorsement for this company's full bandwidth digital colour film restoration system, complete with demonstration. To the layman the results looked very impressive and as a sound archivist I found it quite enlightening to see what challenges there were for our AV cousins and what tools are at their disposal. But it was Kevin Bradley's talk on archival uses for CD-R that captured the imagination of the IASA delegates. Australia's National Library has been at the forefront of CD-R use in the archival environment and along with the support of other Australian institutions and his industry contacts Kevin has been able to develop a confidence in this technology as long as a number of careful decisions are made and followed. Firstly, CD-R is only considered as an interim medium as the Library awaits a digital mass storage system. Digital recordings require careful and accurate documentation; the CD writing system must be of high quality and chosen for compatibility of CD media, writer and editor; CDs must be regularly checked (the Library uses an inexpensive error checker, which results are periodically calibrated to a top of the range error checker). Initial tests show that early errors rise exponentially over time so it is important to minimise the early errors. Their SCSI writers performed better than stand-alones. Comparing single to double speed: the BLER was lower at double, the jitter lower at single. Thalocyanine discs perform better than cyanine discs. Since the introduction of CD-R technology in 1996 there has been virtually no measurable change in the error results from 1000 regularly tested discs. If error rate is within the acceptable parameters it is expected that transfers will contain a much lower error rate, which is encouraging for the advocates of the constantly self-refreshing archive. And finally, the writer's laser must be replaced when error testing indicates a reduction in performance measured by an increase in errors on new recordings. This comprehensive paper gave us many standard practices by which we can measure our performance in digital archiving.

Of course, we don't just digitise for preservation. Access is one of the great beneficiaries of digitisation. In fact, new technologies digital mass storage, the internet and e-commerce systems enable user access at any time, without the intervention of archivists but with control mechanisms that will manage copyright and access conventions with the ability to charge for service and deliver requested material far more quickly. ScreenSound Australia's David Watson explained how they could utilise this technology in association with the on-line version of their Mavis database to progress their e-business aims. The Australian Government, their principal funds provider, expects the archive to enter into sophisticated user-pays arrangements. As 90% of their 1.5 million objects are not in their copyright domain it is essential that better and wider access be controlled by an automated system. In a multimedia demonstration, Danish Broadcasting's Per Holst showed us just how exciting an on-line exhibition using entirely archival material could be. To celebrate their 75th anniversary the web site showed the history of Danish broadcasting as synonymous with 20th century Danish cultural and political history.

The afternoon session began with the staff of the National Archives of Singapore giving us an insight into their modern archival practices. Much of this presentation focused on their use of an internet front end to serve their users. Archives and Artifacts Online, draws six databases together, covering audio visual records, photographs, maps and plans, private papers, files and documents. The late afternoon saw IASA & SEAPAVAA's first attempt at poster sessions. Four simultaneous presentations, three of them commercial, took place in the four corners of the ballroom. It worked well with dialogue being used as the main presentation tool - but there is room for modification and improvement. As a concept, it offers variety to the program and seems an ideal solution for commercial presentations or niche topics.

Friday 7 July: The sun rose on the final day of the conference. It was to be the warmest day of the week as the mercury climbed to 33 degrees. Heat was also rising in the ballroom as the two presidents presented their views of where their respective associations were heading. Crispin Jewitt outlined the remits of the main AV associations and asked where IASA fitted in to this patchwork as technology shakes up each and every one, some will grow and some will disappear, but all will change. The future will depend on size and flexibility and whilst not large, IASA is growing and is committed to expansion. Already IASA has shown its intentions with regard to audio-visual. A proposal to establish an AV working group is already on the table, as is the establishment of a new research archives section. IASA, Crispin believes, is well placed to lead the profession in response to the digital revolution. Ray Edmondson, too, spoke of a great future ahead for SEAPAVAA. In such a short time (five years) this association has served its members well and is committed to continuing their work with a new three-year plan. Both Ray and Crispin raised the possibility of expanding the CCAAA (Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archiving Associations) to include SEAPAVAA and other regional AV associations. This became one of three resolutions that were adopted by delegates (see headlines).

It had seemed like only yesterday that this conference had begun with its Asian brand of pomp and circumstance but as the applause and the accolades of the Closing Ceremony died away we realised that it was all over for another year. The final formalities came as our small band met for the second general assembly and Board meetings. And how would I sum up Singapore 2000? Excellently run, many interesting papers, some stimulating, others informative, some challenging. As someone said to me at the farewell dinner (worth the trip alone): “it's funny how the conference you are at always seems to be the best yet”. There were a lot of delegates who thought Singapore was the best yet. It gave us an opportunity to see the synergy between sound and audio visual archives. We experienced a single joint conference not two conferences at the one venue. We realised what a “soul mate” SEAPAVAA is. And a score out of 10? Well, you just had to be there.

New members

IASA welcomes two new full individual members:

Michelle Grant, 5/27 Roderick Street, Amaroo, Canberra, ACT, 2914, Australia
Michelle (better known as Shelly) is currently Manager of the Sound Preservation and Technical Services Section of the National Library of Australia and may be known to some of you as one of the organisers of the IASA Annual Conference in Canberra

Catherine Lacken, Südwestrundfunk, Produktionsarchiv FS, Neckasrstr. 230, 70190 Stuttgart, Germany.
Catherine is from Ireland but moved to Germany in 1981. She has worked in the Television Archives of Süddeutscher Rundfunk (now part of Südwestrundfunk) since 1987 and is now in charge of the Television Production Archive in Stuttgart.

CCAAA 2000

The IASA Secretary-General reports:

The Co-ordinating Council of Audio-visual Archives Associations (CCAAA), which is the successor to the former Round Table of Audio-visual Records, held its annual meeting on 31st March in London, and was hosted by The British Library National Sound Archive. The CCAAA's main purpose is to function as a forum for the co-ordination, communication and exchange of information between the member organisations (FIAF, FIAT, IASA; the audio-visual groups of ICA and IFLA; UNESCO as observer). The meeting was chaired by IASA's President, Crispin Jewitt.

The meeting got off to a dramatic start as the President of FIAT informed us at the last minute that his association would no longer participate in the CCAAA. He explained this decision by maintaining that structural reforms of the CCAAA which had been announced had not been made; moreover, the recent Joint Technical Symposium (January 2000, in Paris) was considered to have been badly organised in that FIAT had had no influence on the programme. The remaining members took note, with regret, of FIAT's withdrawal. The CCAAA is the only forum for the executives of the five international audio-visual organisations to meet; the departure of any one of those organisation effectively means that the council has suffered amputation. Therefore FIAT's withdrawal is rather strange and it is hoped that FIAT will reconsider and rejoin the CCAAA soon.

With respect to the JTS 2000, all CCAAA members present were unanimous in confirming that they were well satisfied with the programme. This will be expressed by a letter of appreciation to the organisers. The question of whether the AV associations will organise future joint symposia and in which form (e.g. also on non technical matters) was discussed but due to FIAT's absence no resolution was passed.

Nonetheless, the CCAAA will continue to function. It was decided that the organisation will get its own web site with links to the NGO's and that it will extend its terms of reference. Also some joint projects such as an ICA manual for audio-visual matters and regional audio-visual seminars were discussed. Finally, the CCAAA will endeavour to make an initial contact with the IST (Information Society Technology) Programme of the European Commission, even though this is not international. The next CCAAA meeting will be held in Paris next year.

Phonogrammarchiv new and forthcoming publications

Dietrich Schüller, Phonogrammarchiv, Austrian Academy of Science, has sent in this progress report on The Complete Historical Collections 1899-1950.

Papua New Guinea 1904-09, Series 3 of the Phonogrammarchiv's Complete Historical Collections, was released in June. The CD box comprises five audio CDs, one CD-ROM with the images of the original written documentation, and a 224-page booklet, containing notes, photographs and transcriptions of texts and music. The author of the notes is Don Niles, Director of the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies. The greater part of the Papua New Guinea collection comes from Rudolf Pöch, physician and anthropologist, who pioneered the use of still and moving image cameras, and the phonograph in anthropological field work. Two smaller collections have been made by Father Wilhelm Schmidt, founder of the Viennese School of Anthropology, and the missionary Josef Windhuis.

The Complete Historical Collections 1899 - 1950 edition was launched on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Phonogrammarchiv last year. Series 1, The First Expeditions (1904-1909), were completed in time for the IASA Conference in Vienna. In the meantime series 2, Stimmporträts, a series of recordings of famous personalities, notably from the first decade of the last century, was completed by the end of 1999. Ready for publication are series 4, Soldiers Songs of the Austro-Hungarian Army, and series 5, Austrian Folk Music. In preparation are the collections of Rudolf Trebitsch who, between 1906 - 1913, recorded amongst the Basques, the Celtic populations of Western Europe, and the Inuit of Greenland. The Historical Collections, which meanwhile have been included by UNESCO on the Memory of the World register, will comprise 17 series of around 4,000 recordings on approximately 90 audio CDs.

The CDs are available from: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Postgasse 7
A 1010 Wien
phone 0043-1-51581/401-406
fax 0043-1-51581/400

ÖAW PHA CD7 Series 1, The First Expeditions 1901 to Croatia, Brazil and the Isle of Lesbos. 1 audio CD, 1 CD-ROM, booklet. Price ATS 399
ÖAW PHA CD8 Series 2, Stimmporträts. 4 audio CDs, 1 CD-ROM, booklet. ATS 489
ÖAW PHA CD10 Series 3, Papua New Guinea (1904 - 1909), 5 audio CDs, 1 CD-ROM, booklet. ATS 899

World of the National Library of Wales

The National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth has received backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Trustees for a £1,698,000 grant - the largest grant awarded to date in Wales to a library - towards two new public areas that will open up the world of the National Library of Wales. The project centres on the extensive sound and moving image archive held at the National Library. In addition to the HLF grant, the National Assembly for Wales announced an additional £1,000,000 in support of the venture, and to this would be added a similar sum from NLW funds.

Plans include the construction of an audio-visual auditorium; the relocation of existing audio-visual services as well as the provision of enhanced access to the building and new exhibition areas.

The National Library of Wales is one of the UK's most significant repositories. A legal deposit library, it houses millions of books, periodicals, maps, manuscripts and records, paintings, prints and photographs. The collection of sound and moving images, comprising some 200,000 hours of moving image and some 100,000 hours of sound recordings relating to Wales, is central to this project.

Following the announcement, Iestyn Hughes, head of the NLW Sound and Moving Image Collection commented: -

"The new facilities, which should be ready by 2003, will transform the way in which the Sound and Moving Image Collection is used over the next decade. For the first time we will be able to accommodate both users of the Collection and staff in a comfortable environment. Most importantly, the planned auditorium will provide the ideal means to exploit and interpret Wales's surprisingly rich audio-visual heritage. The development underlines the commitment of the Library and its partners to the audio-visual and new media area, and emphasises the policy of government in Wales to opening up the nation's heritage to a far wider section of the community.

Inevitably, there will be some disruption to our work during the next three years as we relocate our equipment, staff and viewing facilities to temporary locations while the building work takes place. But as this is the single most important capital development so far in the history of the a-v collection, any temporary inconvenience is seen as trivial in comparison to the long term gains that we hope to achieve".

UNESCO's new Information Programme

The IASA Board's UNESCO representative, Kurt Deggeller, reports:

Recently, the Executive Board of UNESCO approved the draft of the Information for All programme which is the result of the merger of IIP (Intergovernmental Informatics programme) and PGI (General information Programme). IASA, as an NGO (non-governmental organisation), has been invited to participate in the preparation of this programme.

The new programme has as an objective to “provide a platform for international policy discussion on preservation of information and universal access to it”. The mandate emphasises that “it shall co-operate closely with ... non-governmental organisations”.

Among the particular objectives, the programme aims to “encourage and widen access through the organisation, digitisation and preservation of information” and “to support training, continuing education and lifelong learning in the fields of information and informatics”.

Among the numerous activities planned for the programme I will mention just some of those which are especially relevant to the activities of our association:

  • initiate and support international debate, studies and guidelines on the protection of the world's information heritage;

  • initiate and support curricula development for information literacy and media competence at all levels;

  • support the implementation of technology and professional standards for the management and preservation of physical collection of information.

  • In the principles for programme implementation the collaboration with stakeholder NGOs is once again clearly mentioned.

  • With this new programme IASA has a unique chance to distinguish itself as a leading association for the management of audio-visual information and to improve its co-operation with sister-NGOs in the field of written documents, for instance, IFLA, ICA and FID

IASA/FIAT in Frankfurt

Detlef Humbert, Secretary IASA Radio Sound Archives Section, reports on the Joint IASA/FIAT Meeting on Digitisation of Radio and TV Archives which took place in Frankfurt am Main on March 24th and 25th 2000. After Vienna 1998 and Lausanne last year this was the third joint meeting between IASA and FIAT. It was generously hosted by Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv (DRA) Frankfurt am Main. About twenty delegates, mostly from IASA, attended.

After a welcome address by the DRA's Director Joachim-Felix Leonhard, the Presidents of IASA and FIAT expressed the importance of having such meetings to deal with digitisation issues from similar but not identical points of view and to learn from each other. As Peter Dusek stated: "Radio comes to TV, TV comes to Radio".

Peter Dusek opened the panel with a short paper "Problems and Difficulties Concerning Digitisation in TV-Archives". He pointed out the high interest of the multimedia industry in combining every sound with every picture leading to the necessity of having new standardised rules for multimedia usage of sound, stills and films. The following discussion showed as major problems the speed of development in multimedia, the contrast between making profit and paying for access and the legal situation which at the present time, under current treaties, is not able to cover future technologies.

Mario Pascucci and Stefano Grego gave a report on the RAI digitisation project which started in May 1998. This project will convert the entire audio archive of approximately 380,000 hours duration including 180,000 hours analogue tape to digital Broadcast Wave Format within two years and will use industrial standard solutions only. It aims, in particular, to avoid future format conversions and to introduce an all-digital production process. Tapes are converted without selection, listening or restoration.

Robert Fischer from Suedwestrundfunk reported on several digital video projects at SWR to show what is possible and what is already done on TV using archive material. One example showed the linking of the TV archive's database FESAD with the Media Archive containing the video material of TV magazine "ARD Buffet". A joint Internet project Treasures of the world, <> is running as an accompanying offer to TV broadcast, presenting videoclips of 200 important sites of natural and cultural heritage.

Christoph Bauer from Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) presented a digitisation project of the TV Archives of ORF to preserve and distribute more than 1,700 sounds and effects and 750 hours of self-produced background music. A main point of the project is to improve access to the material between ORF's production facilities within Vienna and to and from the eight Austrian regional studios.

Albrecht Haefner from SWR spoke about three aspects of digitisation in which he is involved. A working group on SWR's digital mass storage project "AMS" (AudioMassenSpeicher) proposed a decentralised structure for the system. A tender will be issued during the next weeks. SRT, the German School for Broadcasting Technique, is offering training courses for Management, Supervisors, Production Staff and Archive Staff to get or improve professional skills in digital techniques.

Crispin Jewitt from The British Library National Sound Archive introduced the project DISCA (Digital Infrastructure for Sound Collections and Archives). The aim of this project is a digital collection management in a new environment with secure networks for shared preservation and access. Because of its scaleable system architecture DISCA could become an extensible model for any sound archive. Project partners are ALB, Stockholm, British Library National Sound Archive, London, Discoteca di Stato, Rome, Statsbiblioteket, Arhus, and Yleisradio, Helsinki.

Clemens Schlenkrich and Ludwig Stoffels from DRA presented the digital system of our host. Since 1997 analogue material has been transferred to the digital domain. A relational database is linked with the file server/tape library. Audio files are stored in RIFF-Wave format and MPEG 1 Layer 2 data reduced format for pre-listening. Yvonne Graf from IBM presented ADMIRA, the digital audio application used in the archival environment of DRA.

Short reports and presentations on developments of several audio projects were also given. Majella Breen from Irish Radio and TV (RTE) reported that RTE is spending 4.5 million Euro on digitising over 80,000 hours of audio material. Bjarne Grevsgard from Norwegian Radio (NRK) showed an impressive video film about their digitisation joint venture with the National Library of Norway. Markku Petaejae from Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) reported on his company's project for a digital radio archive using the QUADRIGA workstation for mass storage input.

Dietrich Schueller made some additional remarks o digital transfer and gave an "outlook beyond the radio world". He pointed to the incredible audio heritage that exists in all countries outside of radio archives. As the next step there had to be found a solution for smaller institutions. He talked about his vision of maybe within five years having a small, affordable "Personal Mass Storage System" (around 500 GByte).

The result of the Joint Meeting's final discussion on future co-operation between FIAT and IASA was a strong wish to continue these two-day meetings annually and in general to have a wider scope than just Radio Sound and TV Archives. As Peter Dusek stated the consolidation in FIAT will be continued by the new Board. Invitations for next year's Joint Meeting came from Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv Potsdam and Suedwestrundfunk Baden-Baden.


Kurt Deggeller (Memoriav) writes:

ECHO, European Chronicles in-line, is a project of the European Union in the framework of the Information Society Technologies (IST) programme. The main objectives of the programme are:

  • to develop a long term reusable software infrastructure to support digital film archives (the terminology is incorrect but, as used in the official description, “film” means all kinds of moving images)

  • to provide web-based access to collections of historical documentary films of great international value, and

  • to increase the productivity and cost effectiveness of producing digital film archives.

  • The project will develop and demonstrate an open architecture approach to distributed digital film archive services. The distinct features of the ECHO system will be semi-automatic metadata extraction and acquisition from digital film information, speech recognition for the purpose of indexing, searching and retrieval, multi-lingual retrieval capabilities, intelligent access to digital films, automatic film summary creation, collection mechanisms, privacy and billing mechanisms.

The project began on February 1st 2000 and will last thirty months. The total cost is 4.9 million Euro.

The content providers (all audio-visual archives) are INA (Institut National de l'Audiovisuel, France), NASA (Stichting Nederlands Audiovisueel Archief, The Netherlands), Istituto Luce, Italy and Memoriav (Association for the preservation of the audiovisual heritage of Switzerland).

SEAPAVAA's distributed seminar

The first phase of the training seminar on the Preservation and Restoration of Video and Audio Tape Materials was held consecutively in Jakarta, Indonesia and Manila, Philippines from February 7-14, 2000. This seminar was conducted by SEAPAVAA (South East Asia-Pacific Audio-Visual Archive Association) in co-operation with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the host institutions: Sinematek Indonesia and the Philippine Information Agency.

This project is part of a regional training programme being undertaken by SEAPAVAA to address the problems and concerns associated with video and audiotape collections in the Asia-Pacific region. The training programme aims to provide participants with an understanding of the technological and physical problems facing the magnetic collections and recommend directions for development

The Resource Persons for the first phase of the training seminar were two experts in video and audio tape materials: Dietrich Schueller (Phonogrammarchiv, Vienna) and Ken Rowland (ScreenSound Australia).

In Jakarta, there were 23 participants from the National Library, National Archive, government and privately run television and radio stations and the ethnomusicology society. Sinematek Indonesia hosted the project with support from the Directorate for Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Education and the National Archive.

In the Philippines, the seminar was attended by 61 representatives from audio-visual archiving institutions, both government and private, as well as universities, museums, music libraries and broadcasting networks in the country. The project was implemented by the Philippine Information Agency as host institution in co-operation with the Society of Film Archivists (SOFIA) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Among the topics that were covered in the training seminar were preservation issues, such as cleaning and treating physical and mechanical deterioration, storage and handling; ethics, guidelines and current preservation practices; and the digital future and format obsolescence.

During the course of their stay in both countries, the Resource Persons conducted visits to video and audio archiving institutions in order to provide on-site consultations of problems and concerns on their collections. Throughout the seminar, participants were encouraged to bring from their collection sample video and audio tape materials with significant or indicative problems for possible consultation with resource persons so that specific preservation strategies or treatments could be discussed and developed.

The training seminar in both countries was highly successful and effective due to the generous support of the participating institutions, the enthusiasm of the participants and the expertise of the resource persons. The outcome further affirmed SEAPAVAA's belief that this project will help ensure the long term survival of the region's video and audio tape collections which have been widely used to record oral history, tribal rituals and other culturally significant visual images, records of sights and sound that capture the distinctive flavour of our varied cultural heritages. At the end of the seminar in Manila, Dietrich Schueller expressed his appreciation of the keen interest shown by the participants and hoped that the participants would pass on their experience in order to achieve a world-wide community of experts.

The second phase of the project will take place, respectively, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the National Archives of Malaysia from June 27 to 29, Singapore at the National Archives of Singapore from July 10-12, and in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from July 17 to 21. The resource persons for this phase will be Jim Lindner of VidiPax, a magnetic media and information migration services company in New York, USA, Ian Gilmour and Viktor Fumic from ScreenSound Australia.

SEAPAVAA hopes that the second phase will be as successful as the first and that it will help improve the region's collective capacity to manage magnetic media. As SEAPAVAA President Ray Edmondson said in his message to the participants in this phase,

“It is our shared objective to improve the management, security and longevity of the tape materials available to us. We may not be able to achieve perfection, but we can maximise the possibilities offered by the facilities and skills that we have.”

Moving Audio

This report on the Audio Engineering Society (AES) conference "Moving Audio : Pro-Audio Networking and Transfer" has been prepared by Peter Copeland of the British Library National Sound Archive.

“This AES Conference was held in London on the 8th and 9th of May 2000.

AES Chairman Mark Yonge began by reminding visitors that digital techniques were now dominant in the audio profession, with computer systems making great demands on networks to transmit streams of digital audio, exchange digital files, and carry metadata. None of the problems could be called "new" ones; but because other media (such as still pictures, moving pictures, and various forms of text) had higher profiles, audio was getting left behind.

Andy Bailey (of gedas UK, a company based in Milton Keynes) started by laying down the basic principles and vocabulary of digital communication. Some of the terminology used by digital communication managers is very vaguely defined from an engineering point-of-view. The next speaker, David Murphy (University College, Cork) confirmed Mark Yonge's assessment. He maintained that the transfer of professional digital audio is nearly impossible at the moment, though, of course, he was talking about professional audio at least one generation ahead of the type of work in which most sound archives are engaged. But many trade-off judgements are needed. These include 'latency' (how much delay there is), 'realtime' (another ill-defined term, because the audio arrives in chunks, perhaps out-of-order), difficulties of synchronising the channels of stereo and surround-sound, the need for lossy compression, and various other practical audio issues.

At this point we reached a familiar situation - advocates of half-a-dozen digital technologies claiming "it will be fixed soon." (To spare their blushes, I will not identify them, you will have to read the official AES Conference papers). Questions from the floor also revealed the lack of standardisation, another issue down-played by most of the speakers. The AES is trying to generate standards to reduce this problem, but the goal posts of digital technology keep moving.

For me, the real advantages of the conference lay with presentations concerning the areas in between those supporting the rival technologies. Julian Dunn (Nanophon, Cambridge) gave a useful summary of how to solve the problem of 'sampling jitter', which he defined as "… deviation in timing of transitions when measured with respect to an ideal clock". Means for reverse-engineering jitter were described, and tolerances were suggested (the strictest tolerance, audible with test-tones, was only 10 nanoseconds).

Steven Harris (Cirrus Logic, Marlow) spoke on Point-to-point interfaces for Digital Audio, giving a useful survey of problems linking two pieces of equipment a few meters apart. Most of these methods had specific applications (for example, multi-track recorders).

Lars Jonsson (Swedish Radio), whose paper was read in his absence by Mark Yonge, reported on Swedish Radio's four-year experience of integrating their whole network from one end of the country to the other. Their solution used Broadcast Wave files with MPEG II data-compression, running the latter as fast as possible to minimise the build-up of artefacts with repeated decompressions and recompressions.

But the most important papers were the final two. Giorgio Dimino described the radio archive of RAI in Italy, where everything is being digitised, including the documentation and cataloguing. (This will apply to television as well). RAI have written their own software called Audioteca to link all this together. RAI's results are being stored on digital linear tape cartridges (DLT) retrieved robotically, but the consensus is that this is only a temporary storage solution.

Richard Hopper, of the BBC Media Data Group, addressed the subject of Media Asset Management and enabling technologies. He began by insisting upon rigorous definitions for all terminology, having observed for example that the word 'title' means different things to lawyers, cataloguers, and computer filenames. Although it is still early days, the BBC have been forced to develop a Standard Media Exchange Format (SMEF, a registered trademark), a subset of which has been submitted to international bodies as a minimum media reference model. This may be consulted at <>. Although there appear to be many competing standards for metadata, Richard Hopper's thoughts successfully gave us a clear view of the future for sound archives and provided the ideal end to the conference.

Directory errata

A small number of errors have been brought to my attention following the publication of the IASA Directory 2000. George Boston's address is correct but please replace other contact information with

Telephone: +44 1908 520 384
Fax: +44 1908 520 781

Calendar of events

Date Event Location
August 6 - 11 IAML Annual Conference Edinburgh
August 13 - 18 66th IFLA Council and General Conference Jerusalem
September 10 13 DRH 2000. Digital Resources for the Humanities Sheffield, UK
September 20 - 24 IAML-Gruppe Bundesrepublik Deutschland/IASA-Ländergruppe Deutschland/Deutschschweiz Leipzig
September 21 - 26 ICA 14th International Congress Seville
September 22 - 25 AES 109th Convention Los Angeles
September 27 October 1 Berlin Phonogrammarchiv Centenary Berlin
October FIAT Annual World Conference Vienna
November 13 18 AMIA 10th International Conference Los Angeles
November FIAF Executive Committee New York
December 7 - 8 Preservation 2000: An International Conference on Preservation and Long-Term Accessibility of Digital Materials York, UK
March 8 9 IASA Board mid-year meeting London
July 8 - 14 IAML Annual Conference Périgueux, France
August 16 -25 67th IFLA Council and General Conference Boston, U.S.
September 23 - 26 ARSC/IASA Annual Conference London
August 4 - 9 IAML Annual Conference Berkeley, U.S.
  68th IFLA Council and General Conference Glasgow, U.K.
September IASA Annual Conference Aarhus, Denmark

This Information Bulletin was compiled by:

The Editor - Ilse Assmann,
SABC, PO Box 931, 2006, Auckland Park, Johannesburg, South Africa,
Tel: 27 (0)11 714 4041, Fax: 27 (0)11 714 4419, Email:

Language editor: Dorothy van Tonder, SABC
Printed and produced in South Africa by Heypenni Gold