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Notes from AMIA

The Association of Moving Image Archivists met in Anchorage earlier this month, and a growing awareness of the importance of preserving television, as well as video on the Internet, was a major point of discussion among many attendees.

One of the more entertaining sessions was a special evening, curated by Jeff Martin, marking the the 50th anniversary of the invention of video tape.  The screening highlighed a wide selection of historical moments captured on 2″ tape –including a ‘ribbon cutting’ ceremony with President Eisenhower, marking NBC’s switch from black-and-white to color; scenes from national variety programs; a local weather report featuring a live shot of a tornado; a very down-home talent program; and extraordinary news footage capturing the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald.

It was a stark reminder of how immediate television can be and how much of it is now at risk, not only current digital materials, but decades of analog tapes that should be properly recognized and conserved.

A panel from the Library of Congress presented an inspiring overview of the progress made at the National Audio Visual Conservation Center (NAVCC) in Culpeper, Virginia.

Other sessions on Re-mastering Your Old Domain: The Future of Yesterday’s TV, Providing Web Accessible Moving Images for Education, Cataloguing Video for Access and Preservation highlighted the shift towards digital and online video.

In the year ahead, AMIA’s News, Documentary, and Television Interest Group will be developing guidelines for archives to use in negotiating with commercial companies that  want to represent or digitize collections; draft a survey of legal contracts and language  being used on websites for moving image on line access; and working on outreach to public access stations.

Other issues include looking at who is using PBCore and how, and developing sessions for the Joint Technical Symposium in Toronto in June 2007 and for AMIA’s 2007 meeting in Rochester.

In addition, as the Library of Congress revisits its National Film Preservation Plan from 1997, there is considerable support for including funds for television and video this time around. (Funding for television preservation was excluded from the previous legislation.)  LC is starting to prepare for reauthorization of this legislation, which will involve research into the current state of moving image preservation, progress reports on prior plans, and recommendations for future funding. 

Given this opportunity, we will encourage AMIA members to participate in LC’s efforts by providing documentation and recommendations that will make a strong case for including television in the next round of funding authorizations.  In this context, it may also be necessary to revisit the status of the National Television Preservation Foundation.