Audiovisual and Photography Records in National Archives

275 views 8 pages ~ 2062 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

There is an increasing awareness of the role that the audiovisual materials play across the nations of the world. As stated in the Global federation of Institutions and Library Associations in the year 2003 depicted the value of the film resources in every center concerned. The provision of photography and audiovisual materials are regarded to have greater importance in the society because the offer both visual and oral literacy, which is so essential in communication purposes. Film products are not given much consideration in the United States of America despite they preserve the cultural heritage. Even though handling of such items is so expensive, complex, and requires much devotion. Every document in the archival collection has a specific preservation needs, in that material such as photograph has secluded requirement than any other paper. Therefore, film archive consists of various items, which are not limited to a single format but incorporates different media files. This case study seeks to investigate a variety of audiovisual and photography materials held by one of the government institution in the United States, analyzes the challenges that the management faces in the preservation, and provides strategies that can be laid down to help tackle the problems thus, improving archival activities in public sector.

The Nature of the Case Study


            Regarding that past information availed through film, audio and printed material plays a crucial role in familiarizing with the cultural heritage of every society or state, yet there are cases where they not appreciated. Archival community devote a lot of resources and effort to acquire the collections and feed the nation with historical information necessary for the development of a better present and forthcoming generation. Therefore, this study is meant to elaborate some critical aspects in the field of Audiovisual and photography. First and foremost, the paper seeks to address the regulatory and legal outline for running film and printed materials records. Secondly, it examines and analyzes the critical challenges facing the archival community in the United States and other developing and advanced nations across the world. Last but not least, the project prepares to give answers to the problems to ensure effective controlling of the national archives and public library all over the world.


           The basic data collected for this study was through several visits to public institution concerned with preservation of national photography and audiovisual resources in the United States and having warm interactions with the management, especially the librarians.  The research staff also worked closely with students working at records departments and film centers while on their industrial attachment for the last five years. Through the process of supervising those scholars, the research team was able to secure opportunities to inspect facilities of records storage within the institution and have enough time to discuss issues affecting the management of audiovisual and photography with the host personnel. The case study was made possible through interviews with various radio and televisions on the management of film records and having discussions with the department of national surveying and mapping in terms of preservation of photographic documents.  On the process finding genuine data to support the case study, the concerned parties undertook a critical review of the empirical literature on film records. Lastly, the Guide booklet at United States Records Services and National Archives enabled a firsthand experience on the problems concerning the management of photography and audiovisual documents.

Literature Review

           There is a number of articles and earlier researchers that provide vital information on the film records and preservation of audiovisual materials in archives that were examined and analyzed to back up the case study. The statement from the “International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions” emphasizes on the values of preservation of film materials (2003). For example it states that audiovisual and photography materials should not at any circumstance be treated as additionally luxury items but regarded as necessary resources in a wholly incorporated library provision. According to a film and theatre scholar, Rachel Clarke point of view on hers findings, stipulates that preservation comprises of all financial and managerial contemplations (Clarke, 2009). It includes polies, accommodation and storage services, staffing levels, methods and techniques regarding the preservation of archive constituents and the data contained in them. Hervey continue to stress that the conservation on the other hand is the particular policies that are employed to protect the public library resources from damage, deterioration, and decay. Conservation also constitute of techniques and devices incorporated by the technical members responsible for the management of the national archives.

           Basing on National Preserving Office (2001) argument, national archives and public libraries store an unreplaceable information comprising of the accumulation of human experience and knowledge. The photography and audiovisual items conserved in the archive provides a platform on which the citizens of the state are able to explain, understand, order, and appreciate the invisible as well as the visible world. The materials gives access to the past that is essential in placing oneself and have the understanding of the modern life as well as providing an opportunity to explain the future. Keeping the shared history helps in sharpening the future for the coming generations and restores the social moral values of the society (Ferrándiz & Baer, 2008). They also sum up by elaborating the fact that preservation of the past through photography and audiovisual articles in the film archive gives room for the connection of the present and the future thus, should be made available to any bona-fide user. Therefore, it would not account for the waste of resources such funds and devotion in acquiring the collection by institutions if the preserved information is made inaccessible to all the beneficiaries and scholars.

          Given that conservation appears to have challenges globally, there are various specialist in the field of films records who have gradually begun to realize the awareness of the problems faced by the archival community and seek to find solutions. Francisco Ferrandiz and Allejandro Baer have observed that the complexity of the problems that the conservators are facing is extreme in less developed countries as compared to advanced nations across the world. Hence, Francisco Ferrandiz and Allejandro Baer (2008) suggest that that it is appropriate to examine and analyze the challenges and offer solutions basing on the particular areas affected.

             In trying to understand between the photography and audiovisual collections, Mnjama (2010) argument is borrowed. According to Mnjama, audiovisual documents comprise of all non-prints packages fond in the film archive. They are at times referred to as special format or non-book and call for other devices to access them. There are categorized into projected and non-projected materials. They include, graphic stuffs, electronic resources, video or film, sound recordings, and three-dimensional items. On the hand Mnjama describes photography materials as those documents that are presented inform of writing or printed pictures (Mnjama, 2010). They include photo papers, newspapers, portraits, books, receipts and other written materials. Photography items are readily available and can be accessed without the help of any equipment. Therefore, both audiovisual and photography materials that were developed in the past have been captured and preserved in the national archives in various formats to be accessed by scholars seeking specific past vital information and other beneficiaries opting to understand the historical.

Managing Photography and Audiovisual Materials

          Basically, the United States of America has sufficient and variety of photography and audiovisual resources. The US Department of information takes part in the collection and managing of photography documents whereas the national television and radio systems or centres deals with the management of video or film and audio stuffs such as compact discs and in the recent past DVDs. The Department of Survey and Maps also plays a vital role in ensuring that there is trending records of other files such as photographic pictures and maps collections taken above the ground (Cuervo, 2011). The United States National Archive takes part in general collection of materials from other institutions in the entire country, it also controls the deposition of information from the national or private radio and televisions. Other institutions including, education, ministerial departments, non-governmental, and private organizations have been in the fore front in collecting and managing the past information concerning their fields and needs.


            There various challenges that the archival community faces as they try to conserve important past information necessary for molding the present and the future generations.  Although, such problems are not that common in the United States, ii key to highlight them in the study because they really affect other nations, especially the developing countries. Africa and some parts of Asian countries are the most endangered in term of collecting and managing the photography and audiovisual resources. The process may at times interfered as a result of economic factors and political influence, lack of training, funding, inadequate staffing, harsh climatic conditions, technological awareness, access to recordings, and poor preservation methods.

Limited collection Policies

          The law plays the better part in supporting the collection of photography and audiovisual materials in the United States and other nations. The national government through legislative body system formulate policies meant to protect the rights of archival community, which define procedures upon collections of the information, well equipped environment, established storage facilities, well trained expertise, and enhances the importance and the values of conserving audiovisual documentaries. Therefore, lack of adequate legislative power to come up with appropriate policies weakens the process of managing the collection by the archival community as the National Archives and Public Libraries have no right to mandate the sources of the film objects to deposit the audiovisuals and photography materials.

Inadequate Storage Facilities

         This is the major problem that faces the centres in charge of audiovisuals and photography resources. Basing on the finding from the regular visits to various institutions that conserve records, it was found that most of them lack sufficient storage facilities and the audiovisual share the same environment with other materials making it difficult to access the required item. From the analysis, the United States has two climatic conditions, the summer and the seasons. The temperature variation around the two seasons does not favor the storage conditions for audiovisual materials. From the research, Not only the National Archives that faces the challenge of storage but it extents to small centres such as the national radio and TV stations are hindered from conserving data as a result of poor storage condition

Access to Audiovisual and Photography resources

           According the study research carried in the National Archives and Public libraries on the retrieval tools, it was established that the photography and audiovisual objects are partially or not processed at all. This was indicated by photographs covers large volume with less descriptive informational indexes, catalogue and registers. Therefore, access to such material is made ambiguous and requires much time locate the material.


          Regarding to the case study that analyzed the challenges that faces the archival sector in the United States, the team managed to come up with recommendations necessary for the improvement of the field. The first one, is that the National Archives in conjunction with other audiovisual and photography managing centres should alias with government for the development of collection policies that would protect the process of managing the film resources. Secondly, there should be a revival of the entire standing committee in the department of conservation and preservation. If that fails, anew office should be established with new management that would be able to set standards for the entire process of preservation within the country to. Last but not least, both government and private sectors should support the archival community in terms of funding and training of the members of staff, because every citizen rely on the same materials collected. Therefore, it was worth knowing that in employing the following strategies in the preservation and conservation system, the archival community will realize a great improvement in the collection of photography and audiovisual material in the country, hence, encouraging the cultural heritage.


Clarke, R. (2009). Library and Information Studies. The American Archivist, 72(3), 185–196.

Cuervo, A. P. (2011). Preserving the Electroacoustic Music Legacy: A Case Study of the Sal-Mar Construction at the University of Illinois. Art and Film LIterature, 68(1), 33–44. Retrieved from

Ferrándiz, F., & Baer, A. (2008). Digital Memory: The Visual Recording of Mass Grave Exhumations in Contemporary Spain. Qalitative Social Research, 9(3), 112–135.

Mnjama, N. (2010). Preservation and Management of Audiovisual Archives in Botswana. Library and Information Studies, 20(2), 139–148. Retrieved from

September 25, 2023


Subject area:

Research Library

Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Library
Verified writer

RiaSm02 is great for all things related to education. Sharing a case study that I could not understand for the life of mine, I received immediate help. Great writer and amazing service that won’t break the bank!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro