Information Bulletin no. 40, January 2002

Helen Harrison

After a long period of illness Helen Harrison, past IASA President, General Secretary and Editor, died at the end of October last year. George Boston and I attended her funeral in Amersham on a bright autumn afternoon. The IASA Board sent a wreath.

Helen supported my nomination in 1996 for the IASA Editorship and presented me with a very clear outline of what the job entailed. She had done the same when I edited the IASA-UK Newsletter in the early 1980s. Her nurturing qualities were devoted to all levels of our organisation.

News of Helen's death was announced by George Boston and many of you wrote to him subsequently. He and I thought that a selection of these messages would make a fitting tribute to our late, highly respected, honorary member. [Ed.]

"When I saw the e-mail title I had the horrible feeling it would contain some sad news. Nevertheless, it is a real shock to learn of Helen's death. She did much to encourage both you [George Boston] and I within IASA and I know we will have both gained much from knowing her - as indeed will be the case for many."
Clifford Harkness, Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Holywood, Northern Ireland

"I have some wonderful videotape of Helen presiding at some meetings. In fact, the tape I have put together of IASA excerpts (but have never been able to show yet) starts with her opening up the 1988 Vienna conference. This was the first one that was independent of IAML, and she said that she was so relieved to see so many people here. It was a defining moment of IASA."
Mike Biel, Morehead State University, Kentucky, USA

"Thank you for letting me know of this sad departure... I hope UNESCO will pay tribute to the international work of Helen in one of their official newsletters and that the professional press in her field will do so as well."
Michelle Aubert, French National Film and Television Archive, Paris

"That is sad news indeed. Helen was an amazing woman."
Bill Storm, Syracuse, New York State, USA

"Beyond all warm personal relations, Helen's role for IASA cannot be estimated enough. Although modest, perhaps over-modest in her personal style, she was the core figure of IASA in the eighties and early nineties. Her consistent input to IASA's internal organisation was an essential move towards professionalism, from which we still profit today (although some of her documents seem to have been forgotten). More important even is her role vis-à-vis UNESCO, which paved the way to that recognition, we enjoy today.

She struggled with Wolfgang Loehner successfully for the acknowledgement of audio-visual archives associations, the AV round table owes much of its existence to her. Had the other NGOs worked to her professional standards, AV Archives at large today would have an even better standing. Her UNESCO AV reader is still a standard reference text. IASA should honour her in updating this essential reference tool... "

Dietrich Schüller, Phonogrammarchiv der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften Vienna

"It appears that Helen kept the real facts from all her friends. The person who passed the news to me had known Helen since they were beginners together at the National Film and TV Archive and lived quite close to Helen. Despite visits, she did not know the full story...

She was a good, if at times frustrating 'old stick'. I was fond of her and she was one of those people who embodied the IASA I came to know and respect. She worked tirelessly for the association and knew more about the internecine world of NGO's than most. As such she was an invaluable office bearer for IASA, although not often a happy one. Once she left the Board (after the Perugia conference) she seemed to fade from view. That IASA was her life was clear to us all.

In later years she was semi-reclusive. We had hoped she could have attended the conference in London. Her absence from that event, so close to home, should have sounded warning bells. I am saddened by her passing, and quietly admiring of her stoic resolve to keep her serious condition from general view."
George Boston

"I remember getting to know Helen Harrison in 1981 at the IASA conference in Budapest. Our friendship grew from that time as we both became more and more active in IASA. As she moved from Secretary-General through to President, then to Editor, she kept up a voluminous correspondence. When I culled my own files after my Board tenure, I had over five manila folders full of letters from Helen and all of the following comments in italics are actual excerpts from her letters to me.

She seemed to enjoy writing letters immensely, referring to how she spent a happy day folding, licking and sticking during her term as Editor. She had a special relationship with Australia, having received her undergraduate degree from the University of Sydney. Our letters, which contained a mixture of official business and personal observations, often reflected her fond memories of the land of OZ.

She encouraged me greatly, offering criticisms in an understated tone. When as Editor, my first Phonographic Bulletin came out with a shockingly small typeface, she told me gently that it was a bit difficult for the aged with failing eyesight to read, but she sent a congratulatory telegram anyway.

Helen tirelessly pursued IASA Board members and Committee Chairs, prodding them on to make their contributions to IASA. Various letters spoke of people going to ground and not being easy to get a hold of when her communiqués were not acknowledged. She would regale me regularly, and with some pride, in describing details of how she had put the cat amongst the pigeons when she needed a response in a hurry. She did not seem to mind the resulting impassioned responses that resulted from such activity, but a number of letters contained the typical English phrase mustn't grumble.

One of her proudest moments within our organisation came when, in 1989, IASA achieved Category B status within UNESCO. She had worked tirelessly for this outcome for many years, and, in the process, became one of the most knowledgeable people in IASA about the workings of UNESCO.

In mid-1980's I began to see comments about her health. References to the dreaded lurgi and other ailments were a portent of the things to come. I believe that IASA was one of the most important things in her life. As she said in 1987, work and involvement can be a great boon at times, even if we all moan like fury. As her involvement in IASA diminished, her illness became more acute. She appreciated any contact with IASA friends, especially the menus from IASA conference dinners signed by her comrades.

IASA has lost one of its most devoted and tireless workers. I shall miss her very much. Grace Koch, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Studies

New members

Denis Mbessa, Brazzaville, Congo.
Denis Mbessa works at the Archives de la Radio et de la Television congolaises which is developing an AV collection representative of that country.

Punam Khosla, Toronto, Canada (associate)

Datejie Green, Toronto, Canada.
Ms Green wishes to benefit from IASA's network of contacts for information sharing, especially about technical subjects.

MINGACO (Corporación de Patrimonio Sonoro, Audiovisual y Cinematográfico), Moneda 650, Santiago, Chile.
A welcome addition to our small band of Latin American members, our contact at MINGACO is Vice President Micaela Navarrete, who is also head of the Archivo de Literatura Oral y Tradiciones Populares at the Chilean National Library.

National Public Radio, 635 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20001.
Robert Robinson is our contact member there and he describes NPR as "a national public radio network, based in Washington, which has a collection of 120,000 hours of programming starting in 1971".

Maureen Webster-Prince, National Library of Jamaica.
Some of you will have met Maureen Webster-Prince at the ARSC-IASA Conference in. She hopes to "benefit from and contribute to the activities of this vibrant and progressive professional body".

Radio Netherlands, PO Box 222, 1200 JG Hilversum, The Netherlands.
Radio Netherlands is Holland's external public broadcaster. The archive includes audio (30,000 items) and TV video (2000 items) and, according to Creative Director Jonathan Marks, "is interested in learning how to preserve this unique record, expressed in nine foreign languages, of Dutch heritage.

International media associations together in Mexico

It was promoted as the first of its kind: an international audio-visual seminar held in Latin America and attended in equal measure by representatives of the three principal international media associations, IASA, FIAT and FIAF. At the inaugural session of Los Archivos Sonoros y Visuales en América Latina, Lidia Camacho, Director General of the host organisation, Radio Educación, proudly listed the sponsors, including UNESCO, IBM and CONACULTA (Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, the Mexican ministry of culture) that had enabled more than three hundred delegates from more than twenty countries to assemble in the impressive Jaime Torres Bodet auditorium, which is housed within the world-famous National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

The seminar lasted three whole days, November 22-24 and was preceded by a series of workshops on a range of topics led by representatives from the three associations. The IASA team consisted of President Crispin Jewitt, Secretary General Albrecht Häfner, Dietrich Schüller, Catherine Lacken and Ray Edmondson. Past President Sven Allerstrand attended courtesy of FIAF and Editor Chris Clark arrived later, just for the seminar. Other IASA delegates included Graciela Dacosta from Montevideo, Nieves Iglesias and Amparo Amat from Madrid and very recent members Maureen Webster-Prince and Elizabeth Watson from Jamaica and Barbados respectively.

Three hundred delegates in a top-class venue: this was not what some of us in IASA had expected. We promoted the seminar during the summer and early autumn and, with UNESCO's support, funded the attendance of our Caribbean colleagues, but a combination of ever-changing messages about who was speaking about what and when, an unreliable host web-site (it was often unavailable during the weeks preceding the seminar) and travellers' tales of the fate that would befall anyone foolish enough to ride in a green Beetle taxi or eat a salad, had led most of us to form low expectations of a successful outcome.

That we were wrong to think in those terms was obvious as soon as the planes landed. We all arrived on different dates and at an assortment of times, yet everyone was met in person almost at the door of the aircraft. These touches are important after long international flights to unfamiliar destinations. Buses ferried us from the hotel to the seminar venue and back again (about three kilometres). If you missed the bus there was usually an obliging green Beetle taxi lying in wait. Those of us on our first day who decided to walk back, intent on heeding those travellers' tales, were much alarmed at finding our deliberations on asset management (this year's IASA theme) side-tracked by concerns for self-preservation as pavements petered out into 12-lane urban motorways.

The conference papers dealt, as usual, with a mixture of challenges, perspectives and investigative projects. Digitisation and automation were major themes but now some realism is beginning to colour the optimism of those visions we have all been hearing about in earlier gatherings as the bills start to arrive and the processes seem to take a lot longer to undertake than some of us imagined. I hope to feature a selection of seminar papers in the IASA Journal - one has already appeared in No.18. My one criticism was that there were too many similar presentations and that some deserved more time: the blanket time limit of fifteen minutes was too severe but was also mostly ignored by speakers and chairs. The seminar was well-supported technically and the simultaneous translations from Spanish into English worked well, though the sound system within the auditorium occasionally created an echo effect that made it almost impossible for panellists to understand what was being asked from the floor.

IASA is not accustomed to recording its conferences visually but FIAT certainly has a tradition in this area, so if you make your way to you will find six pages of snaps, some of them featuring colleagues.

For IASA generally this event was considered a success in terms of its recently stated ambition to hold or participate in regional seminars in addition to an annual conference. The presidents of all three associations are keen to encourage similar events in future. IASA only managed to attract a handful of new members but met and exchanged views with dozens of people from South American countries that have not so far figured in IASA's work (the Editor has recently obtained a list of delegates if anyone is interested in following up connections made). This was a bilingual conference but it was clear that Spanish was the preferred and most useful language and that a body of interesting work is being written in Spanish that is not represented in IASA. Perhaps now is the time to review the language policy of IASA.

The last word on Los Archivos Sonoros y Visuales.. should be left to FIAT's Tedd Johansen: after all, it was Tedd's idea and he spent well over a year helping to organise it. "For me, personally, it was the event of the year". Nobody looked more pleased with the outcome as we danced away the final moments to a college band, our inhibitions and customary European reserve momentarily banished by generous servings of tequila. (Ed.)

IASA-FIAT-PRESTO-ECPA workshop: Multimedia Archive Preservation - call for papers

This year's joint meeting between the radio committees of IASA and FIAT takes the form of a 3-day workshop hosted by Richard Wright of the BBC to incorporate the work of ECPA (European Commission on Preservation and Access) and PRESTO (Preservation Technology)

The workshop will draw on the combined experience of ten major European broadcast archives, and the new technology developed by PRESTO.

It will cover:
Funding - sources of funding; a model business case; benchmark costs;
Selection - criteria; prioritisation; life expectancy and condition monitoring;
The preservation factory - how to process the most material with the least labour; how to control quality; how to manage metadata; what to include and (exclude) during preservation - to maximise access and future use;
Sustainability - the total cost of ownership of archive material; technology for automation of quality monitoring and data update; media life expectancy; what formats to choose;
Online and Internet - how to build new technology into a preservation project - without going over budget;
The small archive - how to be efficient on small-scale projects; special funding for private and historical collections; sources of support, advice and resources; out-sourcing options;
Commercial resources - information on technology and facility houses specialising in multimedia archive preservation; comparative costs; how to manage quality and cost; do's and don'ts of working with contractors
New technology - advances in mass storage, process automation, automatic quality control, and asset management; what it is, what it really can and cannot do, costs and benefits. Also new technology developed by PRESTO and by related EC projects.

To suggest a topic for a paper that addresses one or more of these themes, please send a title and abstract along with your name and address to

Per Holst
Richard Wright

The closing date for this call for papers is March 1st 2002 (please note that this is a 3-week extension to the deadline previously announced on the iasa website). Speakers will be contacted shortly after that deadline and informed of the organisers' decision.

The IASA Awards

Further to the announcement in IASA Information Bulletin No.39, the deadline for nominating candidates for an award this year was January 1st 2002. No nominations had been received by that date so in case this announcement went unheeded, the deadline will be extended for a further 6 weeks, until Friday 15th February. If no nominations are received by that date there will be no IASA award in 2002.

IASA travel and research grants

Further to the announcement in IASA Information Bulletin No.39, the deadline for applications for IASA travel grants is February 28th 2002. Please refer to the guidelines that appear in the previous Information Bulletin (no.38) and send your application to: IASA Secretary General, Albrecht Häfner, Suedwestrundfunk, Sound Archives, D-76522 Baden-Baden, Germany. Fax +49 7221 929 4199 e-mail

Research grants are also available to assist in carrying out specific projects and these are always open for application. Anyone planning a project which concerns the interests of IASA and which requires start-up funding or which requires financial support for work already underway is invited to apply to the Secretary General in writing (see address above). Applications will be considered as and when the Executive Board of IASA meets, so the next opportunity will be at its mid-year meeting in March 2002 and then at Annual Conference the following September.

IASA Website

If you headed eagerly for [] in the New Year expecting to savour the delights of a new design and online services at the IASA website, I am sorry to have disappointed you. The text and basic design are all ready but our hosts at the National Library of Wales were not able to keep to our agreed timetable due to higher priority commitments. I now expect the new website to be unveiled by, or soon after, Easter.

Name change at Osterreichische Phonotek

Rainer Hubert writes: "On January 1st, 2001, the Österreichische Phonothek changed its status as well as its name. To help you to recognise us in future, let me explain the basics of this change (which is, as you will see, not as profound as it sounds).

In Austria several cultural institutions, like museums and libraries, are no longer part of the federal administration, but got a new standing as scientific institutions in their own right. New staff members will not be part of the civil service The basic funds for these institutions are still given by the government and the holdings remain public property.

For the Phonothek this new development took place with the beginning of the new year 2001. We are now a division of the Technische Museum Wien, an institution with which we have a long-standing co-operation and common interests. The Director of the Technisches Museum Wien is Gabriele Zuna-Kratky, whom many IASA-members will recall from the IASA-conference in Vienna 1999.

The Mediathek will be a functional unity within the museum - and keep its premises and addresses. Our name was enlarged to Österreichische Mediathek - the official name of the whole institution being: Technisches Museum Wien mit Österreichischer Mediathek.

Neither our function nor our working practice will be changed by this. On the contrary, we hope that we will be able to fulfil our tasks even better: administration will be easier; we can make commercial use of our collections; based on fixed funds we can plan our budgets for several years in advance. And, for the first time ,our aim has been defined by law:

  • to collect, to preserve and to make accessible the audio-visual cultural lore of Austria (excluding film and photography);

  • producing audio-visual source material (cultural and political events; everyday life etc.).

So our team - we are 25 at the moment - will go on with our work. Digitisation is now the obvious main task, the main components of which are: digitising at a high level (96 kHz, 24 Bit); automatic controlling and migrating of the media files; use of the media files directly out of the catalogue (by intranet and partly also by internet). We hope to be able to put this system in operation next year."

Rainer Hubert, Österreichische Mediathek, Webgasse 2a, A-1060 Wien/Austria/Europe
Tel. +43-1-5973669/35, Fax +43-1-5973669/40,

[With apologies to the staff of Osterreichischer Mediathek. This item should have been included in Information Bulletin 38 but was accidentally overlooked - Ed]

Address change for (ICTM) International Council for Traditional Music

As announced in its latest Bulletin (October 2001), the ICTM has moved from Columbia University, New York City, to the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). The Secretary General is IASA member Anthony Seeger. Here is the new address and website:

ICTM Secretariat, UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology, 2539 Schoenberg Hall, Box 957178, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7178, USA. Tel 00 1 310 794 1858, Fax 00 1 310 206 4738, email Website:

Broadcasting Conference and Call for Papers

Broadcasting: Archaeologies, Histories, Impacts, Futures is the title given to a conference to be held at the Department of Historical and Critical Studies, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK, 20 - 22 June 2002

Keynote Speakers will include Professor Jeffrey Richards (University of Lancaster), Professor Michael Tracey (University of Colorado), Professor Manuel Alvarado (University of Luton)

This conference aims to encourage a wide range of papers which contribute to the emerging debate about broadcasting histories, which attempt to excavate what may be only partially retrievable, which examine audience pleasures, which assess the impact of broadcasting in a variety of contexts, and which contribute to speculation about the futures for television and radio in a digital landscape.

Papers are invited which cover all aspects of past, present and future developments in television and radio, from the local to the global. Abstracts should be about 300 words in length, on disc or as an email attachment, listing name, organisation, contact address, telephone and email address, and should include the title of the proposed paper. The closing date for abstracts is the 8th February 2002. Please note that presenters need to register for the conference and pay the registration fee.

Please address all abstracts and enquiries to: Emma Woodward, Conference Assistant, Business Services Office, University of Central Lancashire Preston PR1 2HE, UK. Tel: 00 (44) 1772 892250, Fax: 00 (44) 1772 892938
Email :, Website:

The Age of Digital Conservation in Paris

The provisional programme has been published for the 4th ARSAG International Symposium Paris, May 27-30 2002, La Conservation A L'ere Du Numerique / Preservation In The Digital Age. A number of papers will be of interest to IASA members. To see a list of these go to

The main contacts for the symposium are Françoise Flieder and Sibylle Monod, Association pour la recherche scientifique sur les arts graphiques, 36, rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire, 75005 Paris.
tel 01 44 08 69 90 fax 01 47 07 62 95 email


The Research Libraries Group (RLG) announced in December the launch of a new initiative in digital preservation: ERPANET (Electronic Resource Preservation and Access NETwork). This is funded by the European Commission and it will create a European consortium whose role will be "to provide a virtual clearinghouse and knowledge-base on state-of-the-art developments in digital preservation. Additionally, the consortium will transfer expertise among individuals and institutions as well as develop an online and physical community focused on preservation.

The University of Glasgow (Dr Seamus Ross) and its partners the Schweizerisches Bundesarchiv (Switzerland) (Niklaus Bütikofer), Rijksarchiefdienst (Netherlands) (Hans Hofman), and the University of Urbino (Italy) (Maria Guercio) will lead this initiative.

ERPANET has the following specific objectives:

  1. To identify and raise awareness of sources of information about the preservation of digital objects across the broad spectrum of national and regional cultural and scientific heritage activity in Europe.

  2. To appraise and evaluate information sources and documented developments in digital preservation on behalf of the ERPANET user community; and to make available results of research, projects, and best practice.

  3. To provide an enquiry and advisory service on digital preservation issues, practice, technology and developments.

  4. To implement a suite of six thematic workshops to bring together experts from a range of disciplines to address key preservation issues (e.g. integrity and audit requirements, emulation and migration) and to initiate associated thematic discussion.

  5. To build during the EU-sponsored phase a suite of eight training seminars based on best practice, and to identify where and what further practitioner training and staff development is required.

  6. To develop a suite of tools, guidelines, templates for prototype instruments and best practice testbeds and case studies.

  7. To stimulate further research on digital preservation in key areas and encourage the development of standards where gaps and opportunities have been identified.

  8. To build ERPANET step-by-step into a self-sustaining initiative supported by those individuals and organisations which require access to digital preservation resources and information.

  9. To stimulate ICT companies and software developers to incorporate some of the preservation lessons into new generations of software.

For more information, go to the project website at: or contact Robin L. Dale, Program Officer, RLG, 100 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041, USA. Email:,

Sites and sounds, etc.

  • The Journal of Digital Information (Volume 2, issue 2, January 2002) has published a special metadata issue - Metadata: Selected papers from the Dublin Core 2001 Conference. The papers are freely available online,

  • The peer reviewed journal of the internet FirstMonday has recently published some articles on the impact of MP3 technology and the cultural implications of services such as Napster: Kacper Poblocki "The Napster Network Community" looks at the features and implications of virtual communities, while Kostas Kasaras "Music in the age of free distribution: MP3 and society" is a critical discussion of music piracy on the web and its place in a chain of technological developments that have changed the music industry over the years. Unfortunately this latter article is marred by some poor editing but it makes some interesting and well-researched points.

    • A new edition of the popular EBLIDA brochure Licensing Digital Resources. How to avoid the legal pitfalls is now available on the ECUP website in html and pdf formats at: or on request from the EBLIDA secretariat.

    • A report from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), entitled The Evidence in Hand:Report of the Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections Task Force Reports on Saving Historical Evidence aims to addresses the dilemma that archives face in dealing with an increasing range of fragile and obsolescent digital material when resources are already over-stretched. CLIR created a task force of scholars, librarians, and archivists in 1999. Its members were asked to articulate a framework for making or evaluating institutional policies for the retention of published materials and archival or unpublished materials in their original form. The report is available on CLIR's Web site at Print copies will soon be available for ordering through the Web site.

Calendar of events

Date Event Location
February 19 - 20 ASRATechnical Conference Nat. Library of Australia, Canberra
March 21 - 22 IASA Board mid-year meeting Aarhus
April 17 - 20 15th SCECSAL Conference Johannesburg
April 21 - 27 58th FIAF Congress Seoul
May 8 -11 36th Annual ARSC Conference Santa Barbara, U.S.
May 11 - 12 112th AES Convention Munich.
May 13 - 18 SEAPAVAA Annual Conference Vientiane, Laos
May 22 - 24 Multimedia Archive Preservation - a practical workshop
June 15 - 17 22nd AES International Conference
Virtual, synthetic and entertainment media
Espoo, Finland
August 4 - 9 IAML Annual Conference Berkeley, U.S.
August 18 - 24 68th IFLA Council and General Conference
Libraries for life
Glasgow, U.K.
September 15 - 19 IASA Annual Conference Aarhus, Denmark
October 5 - 8 113th AES Convention Los Angeles, U.S.
October 25 - 28 Society of Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting Detroit, U.S.
November 19 - 23 AMIA Conference Boston, U.S.
July 6 - 11 IAML Conference Tallinn, Estonia
August 1 - 9 69th IFLA Council and General Conference
Access point library
November ? IASA - ICA joint annual conference Cape Town, South Africa (tbc)
November 18 - 22 AMIA Conference Vancouver, Canada
August 8 - 13 IAML-IASA joint Annual Conference Oslo, Norway
November 9 - 13 AMIA Conference Minneapolis, U.S.

This Information Bulletin has been compiled by

The Editor of IASA, Chris Clark,
The British Library National Sound Archive, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB, UK,
tel. 44 (0)20 7412 7411, fax 44 (0)20 7412 7413, e-mail

© International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA)