PARBICA Presentation: Partnerships & Collaboration in Context of Video and Film Preservation

It was my privilege to co-present at this year’s PARBICA Conference held in September at The University of Auckland. The conference title was ‘Footprints in Space and Time’.

For those unfamiliar with PARBICA, it is one of thirteen regional branches of the International Council on Archives (ICA). The ICA has approximately 1400 members from over 199 countries and is dedicated to uniting archival institutions and practitioners across the globe to advocate for good archival management and the physical protection of the World’s recorded heritage. PARBICA’s purpose is to carry out the aims and objectives of the ICA within the Pacific. This allows the organisation to tailor priorities, manage business and initiate programs to specifically meet the needs and requirements of members within this region.

My co-presenter was Mr Opeta Alefaio, Director of the National Archives of Fiji. Our presentation, entitled ‘Partnerships & Collaboration: A powerful tool for developing archives’, focussed on preservation programs and access initiatives implemented by the Fijian Archives for their audiovisual collection and other holdings in the archive. The forum provided a great opportunity to share insights about the great work National Archives of Fiji are doing, such as providing access to digitised records, photos and the audiovisual heritage collection DAMsmart restored and digitised. For DAMsmart, is was a very rewarding project, seeing the partnership deliver results such as culturally rich materials being sent out to communities as a part of a government roadshow outreach program to share insights into Fijian heritage with its people. The presentation with Mr Opeta Alefaio also provided a great opportunity to showcase the physical repair, cleaning and digitisation work DAMsmart undertook for the project. Feel free to take a look at our presentation, which includes some telling images of the condition of the physical media before and after the conservation work.

In addition to our presentation, it was really interesting to see the keynote presentation ‘Footprints of Ghosts and Bandits’ by Dr Verne Harris, Director Research and Archive at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. I found his presentation poignant and moving; describing the power of archives from a humanitarian perspective. It was also great to have the opportunity to meet Dr Harris in person following DAMSmart’s recent appointment by the Mandela Foundation to digitise a significant component of their video collection.

Another presentation that resonated with me was by Tukul Kaiku of the University of Papua New Guinea. Tukul gave a very interesting paper on the Missing Footprints in a Nation’s Historical documentary Heritage – Looking Across Papua New Guinea’s Information Landscape. The presentation reflected on the gaps that are becoming more evident a in the documentation of the Indigenous heritage of Papua New Guinea, as well as broader national history. This is a really important acknowledgement and something of which Australia also needs to be cognisant. We work with Indigenous audiovisual archives that hold information relating to Indigenous heritage, language, rituals, social structures and more. Unfortunately, for every one archive we work with, there are many more that we don’t have access to the funding to preserve these memories. One of the points Tukul made was that of responsibility; that we have a responsibility to save this information because in 50, 500, 5000 years we to will have gaps in the our past.

Overall, I found that even though a lot of archives in the Pacific region are poorly funded, archive professionals are still finding ways to manage their collection. For example, Kylie Moloney from the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau is actively undertaking digitisation on location at various archives throughout the Pacific, and creating an online database and management system based on ICA-AtoM. This is very inspiring work.

Everyone at PARBICA was engaged and excited to learn from each other; it was a pleasure to spend a few days with them all.

And here are the slides from our presentation:

Audiovisual Preservation Presentation PARBICA from DAMsmart