It takes two to tango

The National Library plays an important role in preserving New Zealand’s digital AV heritage. But how do we get this content in the first place? In this, our 3rd annual blog in support of UNESCO World Day for Audio-visual Heritage today, October 27th, I look at the practical side of acquiring these resources. (For previous blogs see Talking pictures and A soundtrack to recovery.)

Still from the Speed Bump music video, showing the two musicians playing guitar and mandolin.Still from the music video featuring AJ Crawshaw and Cam Sutton performing 'Speed Bump (I need to let it go)' at the Paekakariki Sunday Sessions.

The changing tide of digital collecting

With ever-increasing restrictions on acquiring and making accessible web-based media; including copyright and licensing, distribution platforms and dealing with the flood of content being posted online, having a clear yet adaptive collecting plan is as important as ever.

Despite about 70 percent of content falling within the scope of Legal Deposit, the way in which it is being made available online through 3rd party platforms such as Youtube and Vimeo makes it difficult for us to download and archive it without swimming through a sea of terms and conditions, mainly directed at the individual user. A more in-depth discussion of this can be found in another previous blog History sometimes repeats.

What comes out in the wash is that despite us dealing with new ways in which content is produced, disseminated and consumed, the traditional relationship between the Library and content producers is still as important as it has ever been.

Relationship building is key

Whether negotiating the acquisition of large online digital collections with major content producers or working more at the individual, grassroots level, effective relationship building is an essential step in the process of archiving digital content.

While talking directly with producers may not always be the fastest or most efficient way of acquiring digital content, it can often lead to richer, more informed, and often higher quality collections. This is because we are often able to archive digital files in their original formats, rather than relying on capturing lesser quality copies that have been reformatted or compressed to stream via online channels. This in turn leads to better preservation of content.

Sure, establishing relationships with produces can be time consuming and sometimes impossible (we all know how hard it can be to make new friends, right!) but once a dialogue has been established and a mutual respect gained, these relationships can be very beneficial and long lasting. Having the discussion with producers upfront also means we are able to sort out all the details around permissions and usage rights at the start of the process, as well as having someone to refer library clients to, should they wish to discuss using their content in other ways not specified in the initial agreement.

To date the Library has developed ongoing relationships with over 300 bands and artists and 50 labels. These content producers and distributors have given us permission to archive and preserve a whole range of highly valued audio-visual content such as music, videos and podcasts which are now a part of our growing digital collections.

Sweetening the deal

When approaching a band, musician or other producer for content we always try to highlight the very real benefits of having their content archived and preserved by the Library. One method I’ve found particularly fruitful is to think about possible uses for their work before approaching them. Whether it be to add to a future exhibition or a set in the Library’s AV Pods on the Library’s Te Ahumairangi ground floor, or even to feature on one of our blog posts, if there is a clear plan of how the Library might promote content and an explanation of how it will be looked after and preserved, the response is often positive. Our initial request may be for just one item, but can often lead to a whole range of content subsequently being offered by the same producer over time.

Think you have produced digital content that the Library would be interested in archiving? Please contact us! A good starting point is to head to the Donating digital items page on the National Library website. This describes the type of content we are currently collecting and you could even get the process underway yourself by filling in one of our permission to archive forms. There’s also information on preparing files for donation and how digital material is preserved by the Library. We also offer advice prepared by our preservation specialists about best preserving your digital material at home.

The following selection of “hand-clicked” videos have all come into the library directly from content producers after being initially contacted by the Library with an interest in adding them to our collections. Happy viewing!

Paekakariki Sunday Sessions / Bradley Garner Creative, 2015

Collection record / YouTube

This set currently comprises the first season of live performances filmed by multi-media artist Bradley Garner in Paekakariki. Featured performers include; Eb & Sparrow, Earl Jefferson, Rainbow Warrior, Dylan Frater and Georgie Swan-Hay, AJ Crawshaw and Cam Sutton, and Circa.

Sundaise / produced by Fyrefly Media, 2015

Collection record / Vimeo

This video features selections of performance art, dance and music from Sundaise Festival, Dickey Flat, Waihi, 2015. The festival organisers also discuss the creation and purpose of the festival. This was one of a range of videos that we received from Fyrefly Media after we approached them for festival footage that we could display in our Music Festivals set currently playing in the Library's AV Pods.

8 Bit underground / a documentary by Ranjani Ponnuchetty, Joe Bunting ; executive producers, John Spurdle, Vicki Wilkinson-Baker

Collection record / NZBS On Demand

This is an 8 minute documentary introducing people to chip music and the life of chip musicians in NZ. It was made as part of an assignment for the New Zealand Broadcasting School in 2012. After contacting the school, we were put in contact with one of the film makers who was happy to send us a copy to archive. The Library copy is currently restricted to viewing within our reading rooms but you can still view the video online here.

Douglas Lilburn inducted into NZ Music Hall of Fame / Norman, Philip, 1943-; APN News & Media (Firm), film distributor

Collection record / The Herald Online

A Recording of Douglas Lilburn's induction into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2014 which was originally published online by the NZ Herald. The presenter, composer and author Philip Norman discusses Lilburn's musical achievement, and also his work with Victoria University of Wellington, the Alexander Turnbull Library and his establishment of Wai-te-ata Press. This tribute is followed by performances of Aotearoa Overture, Sea Changes and Welcome Stranger. The Herald kindly made this file available to the Library to add to the National Digital Heritage Archive.

By Sholto Duncan

Sholto is a Web Archivist, responsible for locating and collecting digital music and other music-related digital media.

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