The 2010 Association of Moving Image Archivists conference took place in Philadelphia this past November. Representing both Northwestern University Library (NUL) and the MISL team, I flew out to Philly with eager anticipation to attend the various panels and presentations and to engage with colleagues and friends. Navigating the schedule during the three days of the conference took me in diverse directions. Among the topics of focus I chose were digital tools and how they can be utilized for encoding, metadata, and analysis; tape to file and film to file reformatting; file transcoding issues; fundraising; film restoration strategies; and repository issues regarding metadata, submission, archiving, and dissemination.
This year I am reminded more than ever why AMIA is an invaluable organization to our field. As a MISL fellow at NUL, I utilized the conference offerings to both support my existing knowledge of archiving and preservation and expand upon it. with the needs of the library and its collections in mind. The attendees who were gracious enough to share personal experiences from their own institutions allowed me to gauge how similar or different they were from my own. That gave me the further chance to contextualize the needs of NUL's collections within the reality of the library’s available resources and how other institutions have approached their collections. It is relatively easy to study ideal preservation strategies, but it is a much more demanding task to reconcile these strategies with what is possible within your own institution. The refreshing thing about AMIA is that you are reminded that your institution is not alone in dealing with the important and time-sensitive needs of your collections, and that many institutions share similar challenges across multiple industries.
With a growing number of research institutions realizing the cultural significance of their moving image collections, it is increasingly important that our field promotes the call for audiovisual specialists in libraries. Unfortunately, many libraries with legacy collections find themselves unable to tend to their materials sufficiently because of a lack of specialized personnel, experience, and support from the administration. It is not easy to begin a preservation project and commit resources to the task without feeling 100 percent sure that what you are doing is the "right" thing. File formats change, physical materials decay, movable parts stop moving, and while standards exist, there are many to choose from as well as many different approaches to implementing them. Despite this constant flux, an audiovisual specialist is equipped to navigate these concerns.