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UN Spotlights Digitization of Audiovisual Archives to Preserve Human History on World Day

Audiovisual documents contain the primary records of the history of the 20th and 21st centuries, enabling us to pass down common heritage across generations.

However, the moving pictures and radio sounds capturing our collective pasts run the risk of vanishing through decay, or being lost to time as the technology once used to handle them becomes obsolete.

The theme of this year’s World Day, “Engage the Past Through Sound and Images” praises the expertise of the people working to safeguard collections of the past for generations to come, which without, “large portions of our cultural heritage would disappear to be lost forever”, the UN said on the Day.

"On Sunday, marking the annual World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, the United Nations recognized the hard work of thousands of preservation experts, from librarians to archivists and caretakers, whose knowledge and devotion is helping ensure the world does not lose valuable history written on film, and in radio and television."

In 2005, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) approved commemoration of the Day every 27 October, at it’s biennial meeting of Member States to spotlight the need for urgent conservation measures of important audiovisual files.

This is a parallel effort to the entity’s establishment of the Memory of the World Programme, in 1992, which made clear that significant audiovisual collections worldwide suffered a variety of detrimental fates.

War, looting and dispersal, illegal trading, and preservation funding shortfalls are a few of the burdens that have threatened precious archive holdings for centuries.

For material still intact, digitizing physical records has been a method of escaping inevitable wear and tear from decades of handling, and extending the longevity of audiovisual libraries.

Check out our GBS TV blog post for more trending news.


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Author

Timothy Omondi