Blue and white film cans sit on a blue mental shelf

Protecting collections

Preservation conference in Malaysia
 Rod Butler
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


I mentioned previously that in Malaysia you come to expect the unexpected — but then along comes the Royal Malaysian Police Band playing ‘Waltzing Matilda’ in a jaunty latin beat and you get knocked off balance again! The band was entertaining delegates at the official welcome dinner for South East Asian and Pacific Audiovisual Archive Association (SEAPAVAA) conference delegates. The dinner was held at the Tun Razak Memorial Centre — a beautiful complex set in a large garden that used to be the residence of the second Prime Minister of Malaysia, hailed as the country’s ‘Father of Development’.



The evening capped off a the first day of the SEAPAVAA Conference that covered a broad range of topics such as the benefits of international collaboration and networking to improve the status of audiovisual archives and collections, and the importance of collaborative efforts to protect collections that are in immediate threat from war and unrest.

Also discussed was the need to update the UNESCO Recommendation for the Safeguarding and Preservation of Moving Images, and the importance of a greater number of audiovisual titles being nominated for the Memory of the World program.

Jim Lindner from Media Matters gave an impassioned speech about the need for archives to focus on mining the information in their collections. Jim suggested that metadata tags, especially user-created tags, are the single most important aspect for archives to stay relevant to a newer and socially connected audience. He stated that soon our challenge will not be to make material available online – it will be to make it ‘findable’ and to link it to people, geography, culture and other media.

After dinner the evening finished with a crazy taxi ride back to the hotel with a driver who obviously felt that driving on all four wheels was vastly overrated but who still managed to give me an ongoing guide of the city — from the history of the city’s major landmarks to the best price for a fake Rolex at the Chinatown night markets.

Tomorrow I will be on a panel discussing archival ethics. I’m hoping that I will have a lot to contribute from the NFSA’s perspective. In addition to the standard public service code of ethics, NFSA is also governed by our Collection Policy and Statement of Curatorial Values which state our philosophical grounds, accountability and vision as stewards of the national collection … which I’d be able to concentrate on preparing for if only I could get the Malaysian version of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ out of my head.