An image of a warped 1/4-inch open reel audio tape identified as part of the 2016 Pan-Institutional Audiovisual Collections Survey, photo courtesy of Kelli Hix, May 22, 2016.

Looking Towards the Future: An Audiovisual Preservation Readiness Assessment

The Smithsonian Institution Archives has been spending a lot of time looking at our audiovisual preservation practices. Check out the results from our recent assessment!

The Archives is excited to announce the completion of our pan-institutional Audiovisual Preservation Readiness Assessment! Over the past eighteen months, the Archives has been working with ten other units around the Smithsonian and the Association of Moving Image Archivists' (AMIA) Community Archiving Collective (CAC) to gather data about our collections in terms of quantity and condition, our current preservation practices and digitization rates, and our risk of collections loss. This will ultimately help the Institution in future preservation planning.

The assessment was designed with three components—inventory, prioritization, and evaluation. The first component was a continuation and an update to the 2016 Pan-Institutional Audiovisual Collections Survey and included three additional unit collections to create a more accurate snapshot of our audiovisual collections at an institutional level. The second component focused on developing and implementing a method for prioritizing our analog audiovisual collections for preservation that considered both physical risk and content value. This system was designed by CAC and can be continually modified by the participating units as their collections grow and change. Lastly, the third component was designed to evaluate the Institution's current audiovisual preservation practices, determine the risk for permanent collections loss at current preservation rates, and provide two preservation scenarios intended to mitigate that loss.

Infographic with stats about Smithsonian's "Audiovisual Preservation Readiness Assessment."

The Final Report for the project has just been made publicly available through the Archives’ website to act as an advocacy tool for the Smithsonian and to promote knowledge-sharing among other cultural institutions. Please visit our Strategic Projects page to learn more, and happy reading!

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