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World Day for Audiovisual Heritage; LAC’s contribution towards the global effort to preserve audiovisual materials

Photo of a record player with a stylus

In 2005, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared October 27 as World Day for Audiovisual Heritage to acknowledge the importance of audiovisual recordings, films, radio and television programs as primary records of the 20th and 21st centuries. This day provides a timely opportunity for Library and Archives Canada (LAC) to issue an update on its own audiovisual preservation activities.

In the fall of 2009, LAC approved an Audiovisual Migration Strategy ( which outlined the institutional approach to migrating audio and video recordings to standard computer file formats. The strategy identified a 10-year, $10-million effort as a necessary first step in ensuring continued access to this collection. This audiovisual migration to a digital format fits squarely within LAC’s Modernization initiative since these recordings will be preserved, managed, and made accessible in a variety of innovative ways.

The benefit from this work is the long-term preservation of unique audiovisual recordings for current and future access. In addition, with these recordings now in digital file format, there are new and exciting opportunities for LAC’s clients to access and use documentary heritage audiovisual materials.

Photo of a man sitting in front of a computer with lots of audiovisual equipment around him

LAC is pleased to report that migration work is progressing well and that all recordings in five different obsolete audio and video formats have been successfully transferred to digital file formats. To date, LAC has successfully migrated 100 percent of the Digital Audio Tape (2,710 hours), Mini Disc (42 hours), Dictation (22 hours), and Wire (15 hours) audio formats. In addition, the migration of the video format D2 (2,878 hours) was successfully completed ahead of schedule.

Next steps for LAC staff members will include working on the migration of three audio formats: reel-to-reel, cassette and disc, and two video formats: the two-inch Helical and the three-quarter inch videotape. At the current rate of progress, it is anticipated that approximately 11,000 hours of audio and video recordings will be migrated by April 1, 2011.

Lastly, in step with the spirit of Modernization, this strategy will also include the exploration of possibilities for national collaboration in an effort to strengthen expertise in audiovisual preservation.