The long term stable storage of information.

To ‘archive’ material the storage medium must be both reliable and stable. As large quantities of information need to be stored, cost is also a factor.

Uncompressed component digital VTR formats, D1 Digital Video and D5 Digital Video, offer excellent video and audio storage. Compressed component digital VTR formats such as Digital Betacam and DCT are also useful.

Below is a comparative table listing the features of audiovisual archives, general archives, libraries and museums:

Audiovisual Archives General Archives Libraries Museums  
What do they keep? Image and sound carriers, associated documents and artefacts. Selective inactive records: any format, usually unique and unpublished Published materials in all formats Objects, artefacts, associated documents
How is the material arranged? Imposed system compatible with format, condition and status. In order established and used by creators. Imposed classification system; (e.g. Dewey, Library of Congress) Imposed system compatible with nature and condition of items.
Who can have access? Depends on policy, copy availability, copyright and contract agreements. Depends on policy and legality, donor/depositor conditions. Depends on policy, general public or defined community. Depends on policy, general public or defined community.
How do you find what you want? Search catalogues, lists, staff consultation. Search guides, inventories, other documents. Search catalogues, browse shelves, staff consultation. View displays, staff consultation.
Where do you get access? Depends on policy, facilities and technology. On-site or remote. On institution’s premises, under supervision. On library premises, or (if borrowed) remote. In display areas.
What is their objective? Preservation and accessibility of audiovisual heritage. Protection of archives, and their evidential and informational values. Preservation and/or accessibility of materials and information. Preservation and accessibility of artefacts and information.
Why do you visit? Research, education, enjoyment, business. Proof of actions and transactions, research, enjoyment. Research, education, enjoyment. Research, education, enjoyment.
Who looks after the material? Audiovisual archivists Archivists Librarians Museum curators



Acknowledgment: The concept of this table, and some of its content is adapted from J Ellis, ed. 1993, Keeping Archives (second edition) D W Thorpe/Australian Society of Archivists, Australia