The 49th IASA Conference took place in Accra, Ghana from 1 to 4 October 2018 under the theme Access and Accessibility - Archival Policies and Barriers in the Age of Global Information Exchange and highlighted once again the important role of archives as gatekeepers of knowledge societies.
The 4-day event was hosted by the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana and consisted of workshops, exhibitions, social events and visits to audiovisual and cultural institutions. The Chairperson of the UNESCO Information for All Programme (IFAP), Ms. Dorothy Gordon, attended the event and highlighted that "Information preservation is an important dimension of IFAP's work. Vital cultural and language resources collected by researchers in the early 20th Century are under threat due to environmental factors and changes in technology. IFAP and IASA will work together to address this urgent information preservation need."
Sound and audiovisual archive collections are important bridges to the past as it serves as custodian to linguistic and musical resources that need to be preserved and require expertise and methodological know-how in managing these fragile collections. During the conference, it was evident that sound and audiovisual archives are struggling with specific barriers on the technical, legal, and practical modes of accessibility. Ms Gordon highlighted the importance of advocating for standards that guarantee long-term and sustainable access to sound and audiovisual carriers and emphasized the importance of respecting and paying attention to intellectual property rights of archival materials. The Chairperson of IFAP attended the deliberations but also held discussions with some members of the IASA Executive Board on possible cooperation between IASA and IFAP.
The conference also addressed the role of the national broadcaster and universities in serving as a national repository, the importance of ethics, principles and preservation strategies for sound and audiovisual archives as well as the important role of archives in connecting users and communities, through different initiatives. Finally, attention was given to the role of the archivist in the age of global information exchange with discussions around digitalization initiatives, open access repositories and archive community collaborations.
The conference was attended by participants from more than 30 countries and presented a good mix of technology and content specialists, providing an opportunity to exchange and learn about best practices of accessibility and digital preservation methods for efficient access to sound and audiovisual archives. Toby Seay, President of IASA stated: “Sound and audiovisual materials provide a unique and deeply human connection to the observer. Coordination between IFAP and IASA will greatly promote the preservation of the cultural heritage contained in the world’s at-risk recordings”.
The International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) was established in 1969 in Amsterdam to function as a medium for international co-operation between archives that preserve recorded sound and audiovisual documents.
The Information for All Programme (IFAP) was established in 2001 to provide a platform for international cooperation in the area of access to information and knowledge for the participation of all in the knowledge societies. IFAP is a unique UNESCO intergovernmental programme that focuses on ensuring that all people have access to information they can use to improve their lives.