Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation

The Film Preservation Guide: The Basics for Archives, Libraries, and Museums

Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation

The Film Preservation Guide: The Basics for Archives, Libraries, and Museums

Article excerpt

The Film Preservation Guide: the Basics for Archives, Libraries, and Museums

Intended specifically for the collections professional who has to deal with film material in collections of miscellaneous items, such as paper archives, art museums, regional archives, libraries, universities, and historical societies, this handbook is packed with practical information that I wish had been available when I was trying to find out how to do my job fifty years ago as a beginning film archivist. I am sure it will have a broader use than originally intended. It is directed primarily toward American institutions, yet it will also be useful in other countries. In well-established film archives it will be a tool for training new staff. In training schools for archivists, it will serve as a textbook. It is distilled from decades of archival experience and is thoroughly up-to-date as well. The project was discussed while it was in process with the professionals of many of the institutions for which it is intended, and consequently it is written with great clarity. All basic aspects of handling film collections are covered, from the first inspection of the material to determine its type and its specific preservation problems: the proper physical handling of the film, the type of storage containers, shipping the film, and storage conditions, duplication in the laboratory, equipment needed, and questions of cataloging, access, and copyright. It is richly illustrated with photographs of archival work and with case studies from a variety of institutions. The appendices contain such useful information as edge code charts for Eastman Kodak and Dupont film stocks, a sample condition report, a glossary of terms, lists of vendors and specialist laboratories.

The National Film Preservation Foundation that is responsible for this publication is an independent, nonprofit organization created by the U. S. Congress to save America's film heritage. It can be downloaded as a PDF file from their website:www. filmpreservation. org.

The use of one term disturbs me a little all through the book: the use of the term "preservationist," which I am used to think of as a narrow term for the specific tasks of protecting an object and seeing to its physical survival, instead of "archivist," a broader term which encompasses the first and all the other responsibilities of caring for a collection.

I cannot muster the same enthusiasm for the Image Permanence Institute's IPI Media Storage Quick Reference, a pamphlet that is available with the publication, although it covers a wider selection of collection materials. It is over-designed, with splashy color graphics, including a complicated two-sided wheel with an overview of preservation issues and recommendations on storage environments for a variety of materials, and is less easy to use. In its attempt to simplify and consolidate the information, it is more apt to confuse. The Film Preservation Guide is the place to turn for quick answers.

The Film Preservation Guide: the basics for archives, libraries, and museums. National Film Preservation Foundation, San Francisco, California, 2004. 121 pages, illus.

[Sidebar]

D'entrée de jeu, Eileen Bowser formule un regret: « Pourquoi un tel guide n'existait-il pas il y a cinquante ans, quand je commençais ma carrière d'archiviste du film? …

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