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Building a UK National Preservation Network

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The British Library
Presentation type: 
spoken paper
29 Sept Tuesday
Start time: 
1 000
Grand Auditorium

Professional audiovisual archivists are generally well aware of our race against time as regards the preservation of our audiovisual heritage. The same cannot necessarily be said of smaller collectors, the public or prospective funders. Broadening funding for audiovisual preservation therefore requires that we broaden awareness of the problem, and this year the British Library has set out to do this, while measuring the scale of the problem nationally. The UK Sound Directory was a three month project which set out to map and quantify the landscape of audio heritage in the UK, encompassing collections large and small, public and private.
While the results of this revealed the richness, diversity and sheer volume of material in the UK, the British Library does not have the means to centrally digitise or preserve all of this material itself. Instead, it is planning a National Preservation Network within which to develop the necessary skills and capacity on a geographically distributed basis around the UK. Ten digitisation and preservation stations will be created around the UK within archives and other repositories, each acting as a regional hub to carry out necessary preservation work on material from around their respective regions. Sustainability is a key goal of the project, and it is intended that the hubs will be commercially viable beyond a fixed period of central funding. Outreach into local communities will also be a central strand of the project, celebrating the value of audio heritage and incorporating it into educational packages. In this way we hope to raise the profile of audio heritage in general, raise awareness of the urgent need for action, and facilitate a subtle but important change in culture.