ICA New Professionals newsletter no 5 - January 2017
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Happy New Year! Welcome to the January edition of the ICA New Professionals Newsletter all about working with audio-visual archives.

This month's newsletter features stories and advice from new professionals working with photograph, film, and sound archives. Working with different materials and formats comes with its challenges but can also be very rewarding. We hope these stories inspire you! Included further down are details on to apply for the ICA New Professional Programme and Mexico conference bursary. Applications close soon, so don't miss your chance! 

Scroll down or click below to read about:

A Spanish version of this newsletter is also available!
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Past editions of the newsletter are available to view on the ICA website and online.

From Testimony to the Record: Problems and challenges in the oral archives of FECh Archives

The Oral Archives of the Memories of the Student Movement is a repository made up of diverse testimonies - in oral and audiovisual format - belonging to protagonists and witnesses of political, social and cultural processes in which the University of Chile Student Federation (FECh) has had a prominent role. Born in 2013, the Oral Archives is an initiative of the FECh Archives motivated by three reasons: to fill the gaps and silences of our written and visual documentary sources, to understand the dynamics of the formation and the participation of the student movement from its own subjectivity and, mainly, to contribute to and generate a dialogue between different generations of students. Because we recognize ourselves as a political organization, we do not create or store materials in a neutral or objective way. We are motivated by a clear and manifest intentionality: records must serve as vehicles of memory to activate the struggles of the present.
Entrevista a Ennio Vivaldi, rector de la Universidad de Chile. Ahí aparece el equipo completo que trabajó en el proyecto.
Interview with Ennio Vivaldi, rector of the University of Chile, shown here alongside the full project team.
The first stage dealt with the recovery process of the FECh between 1976 and 1984. We interviewed members of the University Cultural Association (ACU) and presidents of Student Centers that fought against the dictatorship to make the University of Chile a more democratic place, committed to a culture of respect for human rights, battered by military intervention. It was an embryonic and intuitive initiative. At various meetings and commemorations, we realized that each former student was "a living document." Our idea was to carry out an oral history project to give a tangible and lasting format to that memory, under the idea of transforming the silence of the documents into the voice of the protagonists. Goodwill, but many mistakes.

The second stage involved conducting eight interviews with participants of the 1968 University Reform, the most important democratizing milestone within the University history, due to the high and diverse participation and also to the need to modernize the institution to fit the ideas of that time. We implemented a mechanism of premeditated and thoughtful work and incorporated an interdisciplinary work team. We realized how important and necessary the collective work and dialogue among historians, archivists, sociologists and an audiovisual team was. It was no longer about creating a set of interviews for research purposes, but about preserving them permanently and facilitating their access to other users.
Claudio Ogass, Manager of the Archives at FECh Oral Archives
Leonardo Cisternas, Manager of Historiography at the FECh Oral Archives
From our archival thinking, the production of testimonies is just another stage in a long chain of the management of records. When the stop button is pressed on the camera that records the voice and the gestures of our interviewees, what finishes is the recording, but not the process of interventions to which the documents must be subjected: description and transcription. In executing these processes, we looked for similar experiences in national and foreign archives and, in the main, researched the development of oral history in the United States and Great Britain. The archivists of these countries have developed a series of procedures that were essential to consider in the development of our technical instruments and in the adaptation of standards to meet the needs of the organization and the nature of these documents. To these ends, we have been helped by a team of volunteers composed of students from the University of Chile and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, who have enriched the debate and the technical processes from their disciplines.

Working in an oral history archive contributes to demystify the idea of the archivist as a mere guardian of memory or as inactive. The oral history archivist has an ethical and political duty to leave the seclusion of the archives and get involved in the world to give voice to those who do not "speak" in the traditional archives. Also, to put his or her techniques to use, to help contextualize these documents and ensure that a large number of users benefit from their use.

Written by Claudio Ogass and Leonardo Cisternas, Chile
Apply to join the ICA New Professionals Programme and Conference Bursary

If you are a student of archival science or have less than 5 years experience working in archives and records management, you are invited to apply for the 2017 ICA New Professionals Programme to become an active member of the team. For further information please see the ICA website.

By being part of the NP Programme you get to provide support to ICA Expert Groups, help run the ICA’s NP network and attend and participate at the ICA’s Conference in Mexico, 27-29 November 2017!

There are TWO weeks left to apply with applications due on 6 February 2017. Applications must be an individual ICA member or work/study at an organisation who are institutional members of the ICA (if you are not an ICA member yet, then join here).

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Avis à tous les nouveaux professionnels et étudiants en archivistique !

Aujourd’hui sont ouvertes les candidatures 2017 pour le Programme Nouveaux professionnels de l'ICA. En devenant membre du Programme, vous aurez l'opportunité de soutenir les Groupes d'experts de l'ICA, de participer au développement du réseau des Nouveaux Professionnels, et d'assister à la Conférence 2017 de l'ICA à Mexico du 27 au 29 Novembre 2017 !

Si vous avez moins de 5 ans d’expérience professionnelle dans le domaine des archives et/ou du Records management et si vous êtes membre de l’ICA vous avez jusqu'au 6 février 2017 pour poser votre candidature. (Si vous n'êtes pas encore membre de l'ICA, vous pouvez rejoindre l'organisation ici :

Pour plus de détails sur les modalités et critères de candidature et découvrir ce qu'implique le fait d'être membre du Programme, vous pouvez vous rendre sur le site internet de l'ICA. 
Si vous voulez rejoindre le Programme et êtes prêt à candidater :…/1FAIpQLSdOF9MMKG7apV67Yi…/viewform

University of the Arts London’s Oral History Programme

I am an Archivist at the University of the Arts London’s Archives and Special Collections Centre. I was initially hired in 2015 to work on a project to manage the creation of an “Institutional Memory Archive” that would assist in telling the story of the formation, growth and development of UAL and its predecessor, The London Institute, which formed in the mid-1980s as a coalition of London’s most significant art schools and colleges. This project has now been designated “business as usual” and will allow this newly-formed collection to grow organically via an ongoing programme of records management to transfer archive-worthy material to our repository.

One key stream of this project has been the implementation of an oral history programme. Its aim is to capture the memories of both key stakeholders and players within the early history of the institution, and also long-serving members of staff who have worked through significant periods of institutional change. We therefore divided the programme into two work flows and employed separate oral historians for each workflow.

The first oral historian conducts ‘long-form’ filmed interviews of two hours or more with significant figures, including former Rectors, Vice-Chancellors and Chairs of Governors, University patrons and members of the now-defunct Inner London Education Authority, focussing on the context behind key changes and developments within the institution’s history.
Photograph of the Inner London Education Authority Press Release Announcing the formation of The London Institute, 1985.
Inner London Education Authority press release announcing the formation of The London Institute, 1985
The second oral historian conducts shorter interviews (forty-five minutes to an hour) with members of long-serving academic, administrative, technical and operational staff, focussing more on the personal experiences of their particular roles.

In both streams, the oral historian provided audio-visual recordings via a portable hard-drive, along with full transcriptions of the interviews. We asked each interviewee to complete an interview release form to agree that we had the right to subsequently make use of their content. We also ensured that we noted and complied with cases where interviewees wanted access restrictions to be placed on certain sections.

The oral history recordings will be catalogued as part of the University of the Arts London’s Institutional Memory Archive so that users will be able to utilise them as a research tool. They will also be made available, in edited form, as embedded videos in a new section of the University’s website dedicated to its own history (along with images and text from the physical archive). Finally, we are also considering releasing a few as a series of podcasts.
Photograph of the London Institute Annual Report, 1994
London Institute Annual Report, 1994
This has been a very intriguing project. Prior to the project’s commencement, little was widely known about key stages of the institution’s history from its mid-1980s inception onwards. Specific information was held by various staff and departments, but there was no “general” history that the University’s community was aware of. Once the interviews are made available they will definitely serve to fill in these knowledge gaps and provide an effective complement to the paper and digital archive material that has been accrued.

The project has been challenging on occasions. It has often been difficult to locate, make contact or arrange interviews with prospective interviewees, and managing two separate workstreams, including the hiring of the oral historians and student temps to work on transcription and interview lighting, the booking of equipment, transport and interview rooms, and the uploading and editing of interview footage, has certainly kept me busy!

I would recommend attending as many workshops and training days as possible. For example I learnt a lot about the preservation of oral history recordings from taking part in one of the British Library’s Oral History training days. I would also recommend building up a sustained campaign of publicity around an oral history programme, as this makes it much easier for prospective interviewees to make contact.

Overall it has been incredibly rewarding to capture these unique insights into individual experiences and memories of working life at an arts university. It has helped to bring additional colour and context to the written records and will bring the rich history of this vibrant artistic community to life.

Written by Robin Sampson, United Kingdom 
Institutional Memory Archivist, University of the Arts London

Photograph of Robin Sampson

Working with Photographic Records: What does it imply?

During 2016 I participated in the management of the photographic fonds of the Museum of Solidarity Salvador Allende. Comprised of 2300 documents, among which are photographic prints, contact prints, slides and negatives, it forms an organic set of documents recording the activities and functions performed by this institution, including exhibitions, activities of its members and the museum’s collections. The work involved in classifying and ordering the photographs at the museum would lend itself well to being the subject of extended research, looking at not only the nature of photographic material but also about the history of the institution and its more specific functions, and we will see why…

In a previous unpublished work about photograph albums, I discussed their treatment from the archival point of view. I undertook research about an album’s history from the point of view of its creation, but mainly as a privileged artifact used to collect photographs. Due to the industrial growth of photography, it was necessary to manufacture a solution for their storage and conservation and, without a doubt, an album can be regarded as the first storage system for family and scientific photographs. Thus, this object ‘the album’ became a rich collection of photographs (to which annotations were often are added by their creators or the photographer), whose context of production and management provided significant information about each photograph that made up the whole.
Archivo fotográfico MSSA
MSSA Photographic Archive
Both in the analysis of photograph albums and in the arrangement of the photographic fonds at the Museum, it was very important to recognise that photographs should be treated as a record produced as a result of the institution's functions and activities. This aspect is fundamental to the organisation of photographic fonds, just as it is for any other archival documents. For this reason, amongst the tasks involved in the management of photographic fonds (such as the identification of media and format, organisation, repackaging, conservation and description) archival classification is one of the most important. On this point it is necessary to recognise and clarify the following: given the attributes of a photographic image, as an image captured in remembrance (as a reference to something ‘real’) or as a work of fiction, photographs have generally been considered as a testimonial source of the content it depicts, as it provides information on a certain moment or action. 

The arrangement of photographic materials within archival fonds should not be determined by the content of the image alone. This is because archival arrangements, at the higher levels, should be based on the context of the documents’ production and not on their content. It would therefore be atypical, for example, to remove photographs from albums, not for conservation purposes, but to group them together with other photographs depicting the same image. When deciding upon the arrangement you should not ask ‘what is this a photograph of?’ Instead, you should ask ‘what is its purpose?’, ‘to which of an institution’s functions is it related?’, ‘why has it been saved?’, and ‘are there any related documents that provide information about the context and creation of a particular photograph?’ Highlighting a photograph’s context of creation, its function, why it was made, or why a particular photograph was preserved is one of the most challenging and important aspects of archival work. It requires that a photographic series be analysed according to the function or activity it was created for and who it was created for (which may or may not be the same as the photographer) and using this to determine or create the classification scheme.

The emphasis, then, is on considering photographs as documents and concentrating efforts on describing a series according to the functions of the photographs. This requires you to have a great interest in the reconstruction of the visual memory of an institution and is also one of the most interesting features of working with museum fonds.

Written by Isabel Cáceres, Chile
Archivist, Museum of Solidarity Salvador Allende

Photograph of Isabel Cáceres

- Ancona, André Porto (2005). La clasificación archivística como actividad previa para la descripción de documentos imagéticos. En: Imágenes e investigación social. Instituto Mora. México.
- Gutiérrez, Andrés (2010). Museología y documentación. Criterios para la definición de un proyecto de documentación en museos. Ediciones Trea. Asturias.
Call for March Newsletter contributions

The theme of the next newsletter is Advocacy and Outreach. We welcome contributions from new professionals on any topic related to this theme. So, if you have any interesting or fun stories to tell about advocacy or outreach projects you have been involved in, get in touch!

We would love to hear about events or campaigns carried out internally for staff in your organisation or externally with members of the public, local communities or schools: What worked? What didn't work? What would you do again?

Let us know if you have been inspired to take part in advocacy work by an event such as International Archives Day or a local campaign run in your country. 

We welcome entries written in any language. Please message us at or contact us on Facebook or Twitter.

The new professionals community wants to hear from you!

Volunteering in a Film Archive

Cassandra Gorton, Australia

Previously the Swinburne School of Film and Television in Australia, the University of Melbourne, Faculty of VCA and MCM, School of Film and Television (VCA FTV) has been in existence since 1966. In preparation for the 50th birthday celebrations in 2016, the school requested the assistance of volunteers through the University of Melbourne's Cultural Collections Projects Program in 2015. Since completing a Master of Information Studies from Charles Sturt University, I had been volunteering with my local historical society. However, my expertise was not valued. The professionalism of a University environment and the unique opportunity of working with a film collection appealed to me when I saw the advertisement.

 The VCA FTV film collection consists of over 2000 student films in a variety of formats, including 16mm and 35mm celluloid film, VHS and SP Beta magnetic tape, DVDs, and digital. VCA FTV had not employed an information professional to manage the collection and as such, the collection had been stored incorrectly, at high temperatures and humidity, accelerating the rate of decomposition. Indeed, a number of celluloid films were beginning to show signs of vinegar syndrome.

The preparations for the 50th anniversary celebrations encouraged VCA FTV to recognise the importance of preserving and providing access to its collection. 50 films that represented the significance of the collection, in terms of culture, techniques, and themes, were selected to be digitised and made available to the public. These films are now available on YouTube

In order to make these films accessible, I had the responsibility of creating the relevant metadata associated with each film. Since no metadata was recorded, each film had to be watched. I certainly didn't complain! Who doesn't love to watch movies?

Since volunteering for the project, I have decided to specialise in audiovisual archiving. I had successfully completed a Graduate Certificate in Audiovisual Archiving from Charles Sturt University.

Visit Cassandra's LinkedIn profile 

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The Audiovisual Archive of the El Ghazala Technology Park in the Digital Age

Les archives audiovisuelle du technopôle à l’ère du numérique

Sami Meddeb, Tunisia
English Language
The El Ghazala technology park has a heritage of audiovisual material that spans many years and activities. Efficient methodologies and processes must therefore be applied to their management to help facilitate research, indexing, access, and preservation of this heritage.

My work focuses on the migration of the digital files into MP4/H264 formats, achieved through the easy-to-use format conversion software Format Factory.

The use of descriptive metadata provides bibliographic information and reliability that enables meaningful searches. Structural metadata also needs to be defined to link related files to the corresponding documents, even if their content and format are different, whilst administrative metadata needs to be defined to help manage access rights and copyright. Furthermore, preservation metadata is used to help manage the integrity of the digital files. The use of metadata therefore:

  • Enables quick access to the requested information
  • Avoids redundancies and incoherencies of processed data
  • Guarantees the authenticity and traceability of the data
  • Avoids non-secure access to information

To help achieve the above mentioned actions, a RAID 5 server was commissioned, which consolidated the current systems and is expected to overcome the challenges of data security and an anticipated increase in the volume and diversity of data in upcoming years.
The long-term preservation, security and conservation of this audiovisual heritage is carried out in compliance with international standards, including ISO 15489, ISO 27001, ISO 23008, and ISO 14721 (OAIS).

As a result of continuing technological progress, we are able to preserve, store, and even restore digital audiovisual records more economically.

I am in my early years of managing digital audiovisual archives, working at the El Ghazala technology park. My goal is to continue my work in this field, preserving national cultural heritage, with support and advice from international experts (The Library of Congress, the National Archives of Australia, Unesco and the United Nations). I am also grateful for the help of Louis Fortin, Director of the company Vission Mission, who has provided advice from Canada and to the International Council on Archives for the work they continue to do for archivists.

OAIS Model
 OAIS model
Sami Meddeb, Tunisie
French Language
Le technopôle El Ghazala, renferme un patrimoine de documents audiovisuels englobant plusieurs années et plusieurs activités. Il faut donc appliquer une méthodologie et des processus bien efficients pour faciliter la recherche, l'indexation, l'accès et la conservation de ce patrimoine.

Mon travail consiste en la migration des données numériques en format standard « mp4 h 264 », vers un logiciel facile à gérer « Format factory ».    

L’utilisation des métadonnées descriptives donne une explication bibliographique et une fiabilité facilitant des recherches pertinentes et significatives. Des métadonnées de structure devront aussi être définies pour rattacher les fichiers relatifs à un même document, bien qu'ils aient des formats et des contenus différents. Des métadonnées administratives seront aussi définies pour gérer les droits d'accès et vérifier les droits d’auteur des différents types de documents. Des métadonnées de préservation sont également utilisées pour garantir l'intégrité des fichiers. Ont doit donc :
  • Avoir un accès rapide à l’information demandée.
  • Éviter la redondance et l’incohérence des données traitées.
  • Garantir l’authenticité et la traçabilité des données.
  • Éviter des accès non sécurisés à l’information.
  Un serveur raid 5 est sollicité pour mettre en œuvre les actions ci-dessus et consolider le système  existant, qui sera  efficace pour faire face à l'évolution attendue en termes de volume,  de diversité et de sécurité des données au cours des années à venir.

Ce flux important de documents audiovisuels sera préservé, sécurisé, géré et conservé sur le long terme en respectant les normes internationales : iso 15489, iso 27 001, iso 23008, iso 14721 (OAIS).

Avec l’évolution technologique on pourra conserver des données audiovisuelles numériques moins coûteuses, soit en stockage soit en conservation, et même restaurer des données relatives aux documents magnétiques et analogiques, un patrimoine non seulement national mais aussi universel.

Je fais actuellement mes premiers pas dans le monde des archives audiovisuelles numériques : j’ai commencé avec les archives de mon entreprise, le technopôle Elgazala de technologies de communication, qui présente les manifestations sur les nouvelles technologies de l’information depuis 2005. Mon objectif est de continuer mon travail de conservation de cet héritage culturel avec d'autres entreprises avec un parrainage pour préserver ce patrimoine national, évidemment en suivant les conseils des experts internationaux (bibliothèque du Congrès, archives nationales d'Australie, Unesco et Nations Unies) et surtout avec l’aide de monsieur Louis Fortin, directeur de l’entreprise « Les productions Mission Vision » qui joue pour moi le rôle de référent depuis le Canada. Et je n'oublie bien sûr pas le Conseil international des archives, auquel je dois beaucoup de respect pour le travail énorme qu'il fait pour nous les archivistes.
Links to audio-visual archive events, training and information:

Celebrate the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage - 27th October 

The ICA Photographic and Audiovisual Records Working Group

Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA

Opportunities for distance learning from the Archives Association of British Columbia:
Managing Archival Photographs
Managing Plans and Drawings
Oral History: From theory to practice
Thanks for reading, look our for our next issue in March!
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