Marlies Criel | VIAA | Belgium
In October 2018, VIAA launched a website to help everyone with any kind of audiovisual material in their attic or basement. The website has three direct purposes: 1) help people identify which audiovisual carrier type they hold, 2) help to establish its heritage value and 3) advise on how it can be digitised and how the carrier as well as the resulting files should be preserved. Indirectly, the site raises the awareness about audiovisual heritage and brings specialised professional knowledge much closer to a general audience.
The tool has many extras and the use of a decision tree, enriched with photographs and fun facts, makes the tool easy to use. With binary yes-no questions and simple questions about the shape or size of a carrier, you can identify your own carrier and determine its heritage value. Furthermore, the tool helps with customised advice on preservation and digitisation. You will not only find out whether you have a wax cylinder, a video CD or maybe even a Betacam in your hand, you will also find guidelines for a correct preservation. To top this, we’ve added a template and specification table that support you in formulating specific questions to digitisation companies. By launching knowyourcarrier.com, we share expert knowledge about the process of preservation with everyone in an innovative way.
Since our foundation in 2012, VIAA has digitised a broad scope and large volume of audiovisual materials from broadcasters, museums, archives and government bodies. In each digitisation project we tackled new types of carriers, leading to an extensive knowledge about digitisation and sustainable preservation for several types of carriers, according to the current international standards (including IASA TC04 and IASA TC06). We noticed that, in many organisations, there is a lack of knowledge about carrier types and how to best preserve or digitise them. On top of that, we often receive questions from individuals about the nature of certain carriers and if we could help to preserve or to digitise them. We all know valuable sound and image is not only kept by professional organisations like broadcasters, museums and archives, but also stored by individuals everywhere in society. Sometimes it gets lost, because people have carriers, but don’t have the players anymore, don’t know that what they own is actually of heritage value, and just ‘get rid of old stuff’. For example: an individual may have the only copy of programmes that a television archive did not preserve. Or a private collection of magnetic tapes with heritage value could benefit from professional care, which is also the scope of UNESCO’s recently launched Magnetic Tape Alert Project. ‘Knowyourcarrier.com’ brings a responsible and correct answer to the many questions that one may have about audiovisual preservation.
We launched knowyourcarrier.com on Saturday, 27 October 2018, World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, with as a central theme: ‘Your story is moving’. This was very appropriate, since we help a great number of potential storytellers to safeguard their sources for future generations with the tool. The website has its own link, but is also accessible through the VIAA website. To increase the website’s findability, we also offer iFrames. With this feature, the website can be integrated in another website. The tool is available in both Dutch and English, making it relevant to an international community.