Library and Archives Canada (LAC) preserves over 530,000 hours of published and unpublished audio and video recordings. Music, television and radio broadcasts, oral histories and interviews, documentaries, parliamentary proceedings, and much more, are all captured in analog and digital formats on a variety of cylinders, disks, or tapes. This diverse collection shares a common fate: obsolescence. The absolute dependence of audiovisual recordings on their particular playback technology means that once the equipment is obsolete access is lost and the window of opportunity for preservation copying has closed. Failure to complete preservation copying of these recordings will result in the loss of this valuable and often unique documentary heritage and of the investment the institution has made in it to date.
To mitigate the risk of losing audiovisual recordings of national significance this Audiovisual Migration Strategy and an audiovisual migration action plan recommend migration of content to standard computer file formats.
Once migrated to an IT environment, audiovisual collection material can be managed and preserved in a manner consistent with the development of LAC's Trusted Digital Repository (TDR). Ongoing preservation entails continued cycles of migration from one logical file format to another as standards and technologies evolve. Successful on-going migration of digital audiovisual material will depend on the ability of LAC's TDR to manage preservation actions on this material.
LAC recognizes the imperative to act, and the risk of not doing so now: preserving digital documentary heritage is a strategic choice of the institution; a performance measure for audiovisual preservation was included in Part III-Report on Plans and Priorities 2008-09; (www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/2008-2009/inst/bal/bal00-eng.asp); the preservation of documentary heritage in electronic format is identified as a key risk area its Initial Corporate Risk Profile (2007); and the LAC Business Plan 2008-2011 (www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/about-us/012-301-e.html) highlights the stewardship of digital and digitized collections.
The principle objective of the Strategy is to produce digital preservation master copies of at-risk audiovisual recordings to maintain current and future access. However, migration presents the opportunity to simultaneously create digital versions suitable for online access, augmenting LAC's mass digitization for access initiatives. Priority for migration is assigned first according to the risk of format obsolescence, and then according to the significance of the content or to client demand for it.
An action plan has been prepared to implement this strategy which proposes a 10-year period of dedicated and intensive migration activity followed by an ongoing increased capacity for this work.