Wales in Lithuania – IASA-BAAC Conference, Vilnius

National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales

The annual IASA conference, held jointly this year with BAAC (Baltic Audiovisual Archival Council) was held in the beautiful city of Vilnius, between 6-10 October. The venue for the conference was the equally beautiful and impressive Vilnius University, founded in 1579, and is one of the oldest universities in central and eastern Europe.

This was the second time for IASA to hold a joint conference with BAAC, the first time being in Riga in 2007. BAAC is an important addition to the audio-visual archiving world and is a lively, hardworking and flourishing organisation.

The theme for this year’s conference was ‘OPEN DOORS: New Ideas, New Technologies’. As always, the conference got under way with meetings of the various IASA committees: Training & Education Committee, National Archives Section, Technical Committee, Research Archives Section, Broadcast Archives Section, Discography Committee as well as the new and still developing Organising Knowledge Task Force which concerns itself with standards and rules as well as with systems, automated or manual, for the documentation and cataloguing of audiovisual media. – See more at: This group is fairly new in its present form and is having a little difficulty in finding people to take responsibilty for its work.
A few years ago, the papers given at conference had a very strong slant towards issues to do with digitising sound. IASA have now laid down in their official documents the standards that archives are expected to follow. Of course, IASA doesn’t just deal with sound – ‘No Archive is an Island’, was the title of a IASA conference held in Sydney a few years ago – and of course this is true of organisations such as IASA. What remains unresolved, of course, are the standards for video digitisation. The Technical Committee is currently working on TC-06 which will hopefully provide those standards (at least, IASA’s take on them), but as I understand it, this document still requires a couple of years more work.

As often happens in a conference of this kind, choices have to be made when you have multiple papers. Unfortunately, I missed a paper given by Lelde Neimane: ‘Video testimony collection at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia – curatorial responsibilities and challenges’ because I opted to go to a paper given by Carl Fleischhauer, from the Library of Congress, entitled: ‘Preservation of MXF Specification for moving image archiving and preservation’. You can glean from its title that this was a highly technical paper, far too technical for me to understand all of it in one sitting! However, I now have Carl’s slides and have shared them with NLW’s technical boffins.

Two professional visits had been arranged. One was to the Lithuanian Institute of Literature and Folklore combined with a tour of the Lithuanian Central State Archive. Because we at NSSAW have recently taken possession of the ITV Wales Archive, I took the other tour which was a visit of Lithuanian National Radio and Television, which in reality was just like a tour of any other tv and radio station – apart from bullet holes which were a reminder of when Soviet troops attacked the building in 1991!

Film wasn’t ignored either! Ivi Tomingas of the Estonian Film Archive gave a presentation to the National Archives Section. The Estonian Film Archives were founded in 1971, but the Estonian Archives Act of 1935 provided for the collection and preservation of film at the State Archive. The most interesting thing, however, was to understand that the Estonian Copyright Act (1992) gives memory institutions the right to use a work included in its collections without the authorization of its author and without payment for the purposes of exhibition or the promotion of the collection on the internet. Many of us, I’m sure, would love things to be that straightforward!

IASA again this year was a most rewarding experience, and I would urge people to attend future conferences. They are also very friendly! Next year’s conference will venture out of Europe once again, and set up camp in South Africa, possibly Cape Town.

Dafydd Pritchard, NSSAW