Assessment and Prioritization: Part Two – The Task Force on Selection for Digital Transfer

Assessment and Prioritization: Recent and Current Research and Development Projects
Part Two – Prioritization
The Task Force on Selection for Digital Transfer
Dietrich Schueller, Director, Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, IASA Technical Committee



The Task Force on Selection for Digital Transfer was commissioned by the IASA Executive Board in February 2000 to examine the issues underlying the process of setting priorities for the digital transfer of analogue and digital audio content, and to deliver a statement of principles for use by sound archives in their planning for digitisation. The members of the Task Force were drawn from IASA’s Cataloguing and Documentation, Discography, and Technical Committees, and its National Archives and Radio Sound Archives Sections. TheTask Force released a document meeting the charge of the Executive Board in 2003.

This document examines the issues underlying the process of setting priorities for digital transfer. It analyses the various criteria which can be applied in the institutional, national, and international context, and identifies strategies for co-operation and co-ordination to avoid duplication of expenditure where institutions have overlapping holdings. It delivers a statement of principles which can be used by different kinds and sizes of sound archive in planning and setting priorities for digitisation. The issues examined include the following:

  • Cultural, scientific, or academic significance of content
  • fragility of existing analogue carriers
  • primary institutional responsibilities
  • technical obsolescence of existing analogue platforms
  • present and future level of demand for use and access
  • restrictions on archival activity arising from intellectual property law
  • the resource required to generate metadata to support the digitised recordings

Dietrich Schueller will discuss the complex set of issues and principles based around institutional objectives and the intrinsic nature of audiovisual materials addressed by the Task Force.



Dietrich Schüller is director of the Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. A specialist in audiovisual preservation and restoration, he has worked as a consultant to a number of audiovisual archives world-wide. He was Chair of IASA TC for many years and has served on JTS Organising Committees from 1987 – 2000. He is now Vice-President of the Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Programme, and Chair of the Sub-Committee on Technology for the Memory of the World-Programme of UNESCO, member of the European Commission on Preservation and Access (ECPA) and of the Audio Engineering Society. and Vice Chair of the AES Standards Subcommittee SC03 on Audio Preservation and Restoration.

He is author of numerous publications on audiovisual preservation, lecturer at several Austrian Universities and visiting professor at the Teachers University of Fuzhou, China. He is also engaged in national and international training seminars on audiovisual archiving, more recently in Europe doer Project TAPE, Mexico, the Caribbean, China, the Philippines, Singapore, and Central Asia.

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