2017 Speaker Slides

Here you will find abstracts and slides from the 2017 symposium, Managing the Analogue.

Mary McIntosh | The Secrets in the Vault | Download Presentation

Micro-imaging was a hugely popular technology for managing and preserving records in the latter half of the 20th century, and government departments in British Columbia embraced it enthusiastically. “The vault” provides secure, climate-controlled storage for government’s microfilm. The vault also keeps its secrets:  physical deterioration and incomplete management control of the holdings. This presentation will describe some of the challenges and strategies for preserving and managing government’s microforms. Although the popularity of micro-imaging has waned in favour of digital imaging, can the lessons of the vault be applied in other contexts?

Robert McIntosh | Managing the Analogue Record in a Digital Environment |Download Presentation

McIntosh will focus on select points related to the analogue archival record in a digital environment. His presentation will be intimately rooted in the particular context of Library and Archives Canada (LAC), which has for over 140 years assembled great quantities of analogue holdings: 250 kilometres of textual archives; 20 million publications; 30 million photographs and 90 thousand films; 3 million maps, plans, and drawings; 425 thousand works of art as well as a diversity of other records. Also shaping this context is LAC’s wide mandate as a total archive: to preserve all records of national significance in all media.

McIntosh will address some tensions that LAC faces in managing analogue holdings: areas where they are not sure they have it right or where they know they do not have it right yet. In some cases, the digital has upset ‘traditional’ means of fulfilling the organization’s mandate, while in others the digital has clearly opened new avenues by which to expand the organization’s reach and impact. In still other cases, they continue to seek the right ways of addressing time-worn analogue archival challenges. Examples of such areas of tension include balancing Canadians’ appetite for readily accessible information with institutional capacity, the digitization of analogue records, and the various forms of backlog that chronically afflict archives.

Finally, McIntosh will address the issue of ‘the complete archivist.’ What are the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes needed for the profession and its host institutions to flourish?

Terry O’Riordan | End of Life: Analogue Audiovisual Preservation | Download Presentation

This presentation will focus on the challenge of preserving information stored on analogue audiovisual media. This challenge is complicated by the nature and variety of information carriers, the ability to access a wide range of working equipment, and the availability of people with the technical skills and knowledge to operate legacy and new equipment in an archival audiovisual lab.

Christina Kovac | One Million, Ninety One Thousand, and Counting: Analogue Dynamic Media at the US National Archives | Download Presentation

The US National Archives (NARA) is home to well over a million motion picture, audio, and video recordings. The collections are housed at a main campus, in offsite vaults, and within thirteen presidential libraries. Perhaps more staggering is the fact that an equal number of yet-to-be accessioned records are housed in NARA’s fourteen record centers, and that scores of federal agencies and the military have yet to deposit the analogue holdings in their possession. NARA has a small, dedicated staff working with agencies and researchers to accession these holdings, along with a preservation lab for motion picture film and magnetic media.  At its current pace, the organization will be able to assess each physical item in the collections once every 398 years.  Despite the challenges that staff face, they are fortunate to have equipment and in-house expertise to identify the records that are most at risk, preserve those records, and digitize requested records for access. That being said, the landscape for analogue preservation is changing, and it is becoming more difficult to preserve records as the demand for digitization increases.

Raymond Frogner | The Preservation of Indigenous Ceremony:  A Case Study of the Ida Halpern Sound Recordings | Download Presentation

This presentation will look at the variety of analogue media that have been used over time to record songs, ceremonies, and other forms of Indigenous events and cultural practices. It will take as a case study the recordings of Indigenous ceremonies captured by Dr. Ida Halpern.  Frogner will consider the original formats, migration, labelling and handling, descriptions, and other considerations involved in the capture, archival accession, preservation, and access of these analogue materials. The Ida Halpern fonds consists of 342 sound recordings (83 sound discs, 166 audio reels, 92 audio cassettes), 5.2 m. textual material, 7 vhs cassettes, 1 film, and 735 photographs. The recordings were recently digitized to make them available to a contemporary audience. This was the final migration of media since the recordings were first made on laminated cardboard discs.

Theresa Rowat | The Record, the Mirror, and the Frame: Adventures in Description from the Rabbit Hole 

This presentation will explore dimensions of descriptive practice. Archival approaches privilege information content and production context, while curatorial perspectives focus on materiality, culture, and positioning. At The Archive of the Jesuits in Canada, recent processing and digitization projects provoked questions about methodology and the effectiveness of descriptions that seemed devoid of resonance. Researchers could access information, but the experience of the complex object and its emotive dimensions were absent.

Living with the virtual, today’s retrospective lens on analogue permits distanciation. At the same time, it reinvigorates the sense of human experience. After the creation of the record, that which persists is perception—the recurring act of reception. As we describe the records in our custody, how can we inject those experiential elements? As archivists, are we looking down the rabbit hole? What happens if we let ourselves take that immersive plunge?

George Blood | It IS Already too Late. What Will We Tell the Next Generation? | Download Presentation

The presence of audiovisual recordings distinguishes the cultural record of the 20th century from all earlier periods. From their invention in the late 19th century through the present, these highly machine-dependent records have been subject to obsolescence and deterioration. Almost a hundred years later, archivists are still addressing the same issues. The Library of Congress estimates that 90% of all motion picture films created before 1929 have been irretrievably lost. As born-digital and file-based audiovisual records have become the norm, playback machines for legacy formats are no longer being manufactured or supported. Simply put, there are not enough usable hours left on the playback machines that remain to digitize the entirety of our vast audiovisual heritage. Most, if indeed not 90%, of all analogue audiovisual records will be lost. What can still be done to minimize this loss? What is the role of professionals in memory institutions? What can we learn from the past so as to not repeat the same mistakes in the future?