Open and equal access to information is in high demand, yet may be impeded by social, cultural, and economic barriers. The question of access at the same time encourages discussions on the technical, legal, and practical modes of accessibility.
These concerns amongst other related issues were addressed under the theme: Access and Accessibility – Archival Policies and Barriers in the Age of Global Information Exchange, at this year’s International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) 49th Annual Conference. The conference was hosted by the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, from Monday, October 1 to Thursday, October 2, 2018.
Papers and tutorials at this year’s annual conference in Ghana focused on the prospects and limitations of global and local access and accessibility to audiovisual archives as well as on issues of discovery, care, preservation, and dissemination of our sound and audiovisual heritage.
Sub-themes included connecting users, materials, and communities; using semantic technologies to aid description and access; language diversity and oral history collections – best practices of accessibility; and digital preservation methods for efficient access.
The IASA 2018 Conference featured two keynote addresses. The opening keynote address was delivered by Professor Esi Sutherland-Addy from the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, who spoke on Sankofa: Exploring Memory as the Life Force of the Future. The closing keynote was delivered by Kara Van Malssen, a Senior Consultant at Audiovisual Preservation Solutions in the United States, who spoke on Designing Sustainable Cooperative Projects for Impact.
The Conference featured 53 spoken papers from more than 20 countries, 10 workshops and tutorials (on audiovisual heritage preservation and access), posters, exhibits, social events, visits to audiovisual and cultural institutions, and over 120 attendees from more than 30 countries worldwide. Some of the countries represented at the conference include: Ghana, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, United States, Malawi, New Zealand, Norway, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Israel, France, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Latvia, South Africa, Taiwan, Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, Portugal, Australia, China, Thailand.
International Bodies represented at the conference include UNESCO office in Accra, and Information For All Programme (IFAP), an important UNESCO initiative, whose current Chair, Ms. Dorothy Gordon who was present throughout the conference, held discussions with some members on the IASA Executive Board about possibilities on how IASA and IFAP can work closer in future.
During the opening ceremony of the IASA 2018 conference, the British Library, through its Lead Curator, World and Traditional Music, Dr. Janet Topp Fargion, made a special donation of the access copies of all the Captain Robert Sutherland Rattray’s (1881-1938) wax cylinder recordings collected in 1921 on the Ashanti and to the J. H. Kwabena Nketia Archives of the Institute of African Studies for research and scholarship. The Director of the Institute, Professor Dzodzi Tsikata received the donation on behalf of the Institute.
The International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) was established in 1969 in Amsterdam to function as a medium for international co-operation between archives that preserve recorded sound and audiovisual documents.
IASA has members from 70 countries representing a broad palette of audiovisual archives and personal interests which are distinguished by their focus on particular subjects and areas, eg archives for all sorts of musical recordings, historic, literary, folkloric and ethnological sound documents, theatre productions and oral history interviews, bio-acoustics, environmental and medical sounds, linguistic and dialect recordings, as well as recordings for forensic purposes.
The writer is the Archivist at the J.H. Kwabena Nketia Archives, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana Legon – Accra. She is Chair: Diversity Task Force (IASA) and IASA Ambassador for Ghana and West Africa