4. Alternative models

Having considered a few arguments in favour of both national and specialised sound archives, it might be interesting to take a quick look at three other organisational models. First, the Arkivet för Ljud och Bild in Stockholm is an example of a national archive for sound recordings, videotapes and films, partly based upon the fusion of a few already existing archival collections. This Swedish model, of one integral national archive for all audiovisual media, is also interesting because it presents an alternative to both the national sound archive philosophy and the concept of audiovisual archives as part of a multi-media national institution like the Library of Congress. In Stockholm, sound recordings and moving pictures are brought together to the exclusion of other media such as books and written documents. It should be remembered, however, that storage and particularly the preservation of audio and visual media are in many ways different from both the technical aspects and from the financial needs and there may be some disadvantages to combining them. Also, in such an arrangement, the sound archive will only profit as long as the budget is fairly divided between the media, with each safely secured against interference, and so long as the management does not pursue a biased policy favouring the visual media at the expense of the audio.

Secondly, in order to profit from a similar kind of centralisation of the preservation and storage of recordings, several institutes in the Netherlands have proposed to the Government the establishment of an organisation which would act as a central depot and a clearing-house for audiovisual media and would also fill an intermediary role between the Netherlands Broadcasting Foundation (NOS) and the various public organisations and groups interested in access to radio and television material. These plans are primarily intended as a solution to the problems concerning films and video-tapes but they will undoubtedly have far reaching effects in the field of sound recordings as well. The clearing house idea may perhaps prove to be a valuable kind of compromise between the rigid centralised structure of a national archive and the 'anarchy' of quite independent and divergent specialised archives, especially in countries where such archives already exist.

Thirdly, there is the unique approach of Austrian sound archives united in the 'Arbeitsgemeinschaft Öesterreichischer Schallarchive AGöS' (Association of Austrian Sound Archives). The AGöS foresees a few primary archives concentrating on the collection and preservation of original sound records. These archives should not be open to the general public, but a network of other institutions including libraries, mediathèques or audio-visual centres should act as distributors of copies of the sound records preserved in the primary archives. The AGöS considers it necessary to maintain content centred archives in this range of primary archives, also distributing their recordings through the network of regional institutions mentioned above. The system starts of course from the assumption that certain standardisations in the field of title description and distribution media have first been accomplished.