Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Introducing: The New Zealand Media Archives

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  • Kate Hannah,

    Thanks Russell; a really necessary conversation. The Archives NZ/National Library merger was viewed with some suspicion within history circles - largely, I think because the National Library is a trope for how we as a nation view and access our past - I'm loathe to lose that symbolic nature, myself. But in practical terms, the sets of artifacts work together.

    I'm hoping that the entitity of the National Library will continue to exist -as you indicate, the building and its accessibility to the public is a key aspect of these organisations that preserve and protect our national taonga. In particular,

    the specific, important area of online access

    - the Alexander Turnbull Library have, amoungst their kaitiaki a computer scientist who might happen to be my dad, whose areas of expertise include digital libraries and access thereto.
    http://www.natlib.govt.nz/about-us/friends-advisors/guardians-kaitiaki

    So there's good precedents there in the archives field to embrace the need for online access.

    And because I'm a libraries true believer - my Friday warm fuzzy - what a librarian Marguerite Hart must have been: http://snarkmarket.com/2011/6937

    Auckland • Since Mar 2010 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    I really like the idea of NZ On Screen being the accessible side of New Zealand's film, television and sound archives.While the archive bodies look after the footage, NZ On Screen are the ones who curate the works, displaying them on online and providing some context and behind-the-scenes info. The same thing could apply to content from the radio archives too.

    Meanwhile, I would like to see every single music video made from NZ On Air funding to be available online. There is a lot missing from the webs! (This is related to my cool new web project, which I will be announcing soon.)

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1851 posts Report Reply

  • peter mclennan,

    Robyn - its my understanding that music video funding from NZ On Air has not/does not require the music video maker or band to give NZ On Air a copy of the finished video. So they don't have copies of them.

    AK Central • Since Nov 2006 • 152 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    I figured that was the case, though NZ On Air's Kiwi Hits website seems to have a column in its catalogue search results page for displaying music videos (but even so, NZ On Screen does it better).

    It's a shame be cause there are hundreds of those old videos that aren't available online. The songs that people remember and love get digitised. It's the weird little bands that have faded from our digital memory.

    The Film Archive has lots in its archive that aren't (yet) online. Otherwise, most NZ music videos online are the result of artists or record companies uploading, and fans lovingly making digital copies of their videotaped collections of old music videos.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1851 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    It’s a shame be cause there are hundreds of those old videos that aren’t available online. The songs that people remember and love get digitised. It’s the weird little bands that have faded from our digital memory.

    At every board meeting, I try and make a point of asking Brenda whether she has secured a copy of this classic video, which holds a special place in the hearts – or somewhere – of a generation of NZ males:

    Sadly, there does not seem to exist a master, or even a good-quality VHS recording.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18726 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    It's sound, and there is even a brief paper in circulation.

    The paper has grown. The proposal that is doing the rounds now is some 70 pages and has formal support from all of the above groupings, plus major players in the industry, NZ's musical historians and many more. Many of the large number of letters I've had in support are just astounding (and some quite humbling).

    The position in Wellington is that the idea has merit and substance, it's more a matter of working out now where it fits into the funding scheme, and that's now an ongoing conversation that I'm convinced / determined will end positively.

    I love, and fully support the idea of a wider media archive which could embrace this and provide synergy.

    And I agree fully:

    one that allows each to retain its character and purpose, but offers the chance to share resources and a code of practice.

    That each retains its purpose is key to the database which should not be seen and subsumed into the idea that it is just an archive.

    The archival and documentary activity is just a part of what needs to be a living and ongoing document which, by its nature, will never have an ending. I lean more towards the broader idea that it is a digital space which gives context and depth to the musics we make and have made - and offers a massive resource at an educational level, as well as pushing that context globally.

    One letter (from Adam Holt, the Chairman of RIANZ) put it well: it's about documenting, promoting, and projecting our cultural well being.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    The songs that people remember and love get digitised. It's the weird little bands that have faded from our digital memory.

    I love weird lil bands

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16503 posts Report Reply

  • David,

    I am a bit puzzled. There already IS a New Zealand Music Archive. It is part of the Alexander Turnbull Library - check the National Library website. Originally its emphasis was on non-popular music. It has branched out and has an active Music Librarian. Are we risking a further waste of resources?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to David,

    Are we risking a further waste of resources?

    Hasn't this already been covered in a previous thread?

    The problem is - partially - it shares a potential name but little of the functionality of what the wider industry feels is required of an archive.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Claire,

    I agree that we shouldn't hand over our archives to a non-public organisation, but think its a bit rough to be dismissing the Film Archive when they have been surviving for years on excruciatingly small amounts of funding. Don't forget, they started to save our film heritage - if they hadn't done so we wouldn't have much of what we do. Perhaps if they had received the NZ On Screen funding, they could be doing the sterling job that NZ on Screen is? To some extent the issue is silo'd funding between broadcasting and heritage, so its good that its being looked at. Also some great music videos on the NZFA site that they did with Roger Shepard I think.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2011 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    As another trustee of NZ ON Screen, I will also avoid that part of the territory.

    I know, from colleague's experiences, that the TVNZ archive sometimes charges hideous amounts for access to historical footage for academic purposes. I do think there may be irreconcilable differences in respects of commercial objectives vs open access in any new set-up.


    In respect of the Film Archive, their most recent, ancillary initiative-- New Zealand Film: An Illustrated History (Te Papa Press. to be launched 4 July) is great. It will be a most handsome book.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2288 posts Report Reply

  • David,

    which thread is that Simon? - some of us are new to this site, so it is good to catch up. But, further to the note about the existing NZ Music Archive some recent interesting accessions have included audio archives of Radio Active live music, audio archives of Happy alternative music venue, further additions of audio to the Huggard Jazz archive, further papers of Richard Nunns. All seems a pretty healthy operation to me. Certainly could do with more funding though

    Wellington • Since Jun 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Claire,

    I agree that we shouldn't hand over our archives to a non-public organisation, but think its a bit rough to be dismissing the Film Archive when they have been surviving for years on excruciatingly small amounts of funding.

    I'm honestly not trying to dismiss them, but Roger Horrocks' review did identify quite a few problems -- while, as I noticed, offering particular praise for the archive's excellent interaction with the public.

    But would you merge our entire broadcasting heritage into the NZFA as it is? Hell, no. That's the issue.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18726 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    If whoever wrote the minister's press release gets their hands on the idea it might end up called the New Zealand Mediums Archive:
    National Library documenting quake and recovery

    ... though it does also have a link to Ross Becker's photos from the Red Zone

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1095 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to David,

    which thread is that Simon? - some of us are new to this site, so it is good to catch up.

    This one, I think.

    But, further to the note about the existing NZ Music Archive some recent interesting accessions have included audio archives of Radio Active live music, audio archives of Happy alternative music venue, further additions of audio to the Huggard Jazz archive, further papers of Richard Nunns. All seems a pretty healthy operation to me. Certainly could do with more funding though

    Couldn't they all. But, much as I treasure the Turnbull, I just don't think there is the entrepreneurial spark there that what Simon's proposing would require. The kind of people who'd make it tick aren't really library people.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18726 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to David,

    But, further to the note about the existing NZ Music Archive some recent interesting accessions have included audio archives of Radio Active live music, audio archives of Happy alternative music venue, further additions of audio to the Huggard Jazz archive, further papers of Richard Nunns.

    All of which is valuable, but the wider idea that is being talked about - as Russell set out above - is two pronged:
    1) a physical archive of master recordings - tapes including multi-tracks and other data which is fast disappearing - in other words a repository.
    2) The public database/gathering of our music and the related cultures as above from both Russell and myself.

    Whenever either of these are touted there always seems to be somebody - who may or may not be related to the Turnbull archive (and no offence meant at all, David) - who pops up somewhat protectively and says we already possess a music archive. We do, but not doing what is desperately needed, and, regardless of the funding, seemingly unlikely to do so, given it's focus and terms of reference.

    An accessible - populist even - wide-ranging online database/gathering point for NZ's musical culture is unlikely to ever come from the librarians at the current archive.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • David,

    Thanks Russell - just read it. Some rather alarming misconceptions there about what the Library does. Sure, the National Library trys to collect everything published, including music, and legal deposit is part of that. But the collecting work of the Turnbull NZ Music Archive is much more active than that - focusing on the papers and sounds of NZ musicians of all forms (if rather belatedly moving into the popular area). Can only hope this new "entrepeneurial" approach to collecting is better informed about what already exists than those on that thread! I am sure the Library is only too happy to work closely with those with similar interests, entrepeneurial or otherwise. And I have not even mentioned the Library's massive investment in digitial preservation - the main challenge of modern archive keeping.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to David,

    Can only hope this new "entrepeneurial" approach to collecting is better informed about what already exists than those on that thread!

    Fair enough, David. I'd be very happy for you to critique those comments, and explain more about what the Turnbull NZ Music Archive does. Seriously.

    But just to be clear, I meant entrepreneurial more in the sense of Information Entrepreneurs, the paper I gave to a Friends of the Turnbull conference.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18726 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    I do think there may be irreconcilable differences in respects of commercial objectives vs open access in any new set-up.

    Particularly when NZ's copyright law has such weak provisions for fair use compared with other nations.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16503 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to David,

    focusing on the papers and sounds of NZ musicians of all forms

    David, I own, control or have been involved with some fairly large parts of what we call our musical past - much of it very important.

    I also work closely with many of the most important label owners, musicians and private curators of our musical history. We have volumes of tapes, papers, imagery, and much, much more. To date the most active attempts to preserve the musical past that we have experienced and helped create - the data, the stories, the wider culture - has all been done privately.

    Legal deposit aside, our relationship with the NZ Music Archive is and has been nil and sadly we have already lost so very much.

    Perhaps that will change as time goes on, but there is no indication to date that is going to be the case.

    I do think you are rather missing the point/s.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    One thing I think has been important at NZ On Screen is having people, employed or contracted, who are well integrated in the screen production industry and can build trust.

    Commercial producers have generally been happy to allow programmes from their catalogues to be freely available for the public good, but industry networks help.

    NZ On Screen, of course, only does the digitisation and access part, not the preservation, but I strongly suspect something similar would apply to Simon's project.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18726 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I deleted your comment, Sacha. Ease up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18726 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    If commenting about public culture funding priorities is now out of order, consider me out of this conversation. Enjoy.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16503 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    I want this thread to be civil, in the hope that people in the archives sector will feel comfortable coming in and contributing. That was a bit snipey.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18726 posts Report Reply

  • Russell C,

    The government has already brought the two big heritage archives – the National Library collection and Archives New Zealand – together by moving the library, previously its own government department, into the Department of Internal Affairs. I don’t know enough about the issues there to comment, but I haven’t really heard any cries of distress.

    Just to change tack a bit and return to another bit of the original post. I’m not so sure the absence of ‘cries of distress’ re Archives and Natlib being merged back in DIA is by itself any sort of good omen. It’s simply not possible for the public servants themselves to speak publicly and I’m sure that the professional bodies (ARANZ, RIMPA etc) are no more enthusiastic now it than they were when it was first mooted. Remind me again what the country gains from the merger? Savings? Where? what are they, where is the post implementation review that outlines the efficiencies and savings? Though not, this merger and others like MFish always smelt like rampant ideology which rarely ever has a good outcome.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 28 posts Report Reply

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