image shows David Walsh leading a small group conversation around a meeting room table.

Archival expertise has largely fallen away, and the knowledge resides in an increasingly aged core of former film technicians and laboratory works and filmmakers. It’s very hard for anyone joining an archive to actually gain this knowledge.

David Walsh, training and outreach coordinator for FIAF

Conference addressed challenges of audiovisual preservation


In May 2019, 50 professional archivists, filmmakers, scholars, and film projectionists from 12 countries traveled to Bloomington, Indiana to participate in FIAF’s new two-week training program held at Indiana University. The first Biennial Audio Visual Archival Summer School (BAVASS), established a new multi-week training model with comprehensive curriculum focused on audiovisual archiving and preservation 

Time and change have become some of the biggest threats to audiovisual collections. With motion picture imaging dying away in its traditional form, conventional film has already reached the end of its life. Other media, such as videotapes and audiocassettes, will soon follow. It’s the archivist’s job to protect and preserve, as much as possible, those formats and the content they hold. 

“Time is against us,” said Natalie Rose Cassaniti, an assistant conservator at the State Library of New South Wales, Australia. “There are massed collections all over the world, but we are limited with time and funding resources to be able to preserve them."

Funding is another factor in the struggle to save aging media. Indiana University is one of the rare exceptions in the archival world, in that the university has a decades-long track record of providing the resources, expertise, and funding to preserve and provide access to its unique image and sound collections across all its campuses. In 2013, the university announced it would be allocating $15 million to the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative (MDPI) to digitally preserve and provide access to all significant audio, video, and film recordings by 2020. That’s 325,000 audio-visual pieces. In 2017, MDPI added the digitization of 25,000 film reels to its goal.

“The amazing facilities, staff, and ongoing programs that IU has supported allowed us to host the BAVASS program,” said Rachael Stoeltje, director of Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive and one of the lead organizers of the Summer School.


A look back

With multiple days of workshops and presentations summer school participants experienced intensive, hands-on learning through instruction by today's leading experts in the field of archival preservation, and exposure to Indiana University's comprehensive and cutting edge audiovisual environments.
Women stands by an AV cart presenting with a large screened image in the background.


Man leans over large film reel mounted to a table.


A man and women sit in lounge chairs in a library discussing film preservation


A group of students examines records on a word table.


in a classroom many students stand working on tables with film preservation equipment.


A women holds a film up to the light to examine it.


A women is presenting at a podium with a large screen above her filled with binary numbers.


A group of three people sit in the front of a theater in a panel discussion.


A person rides a forklift inside a warehouse holding shelves of film canisters.


Three people are in a projection booth for a cinema


A group looks at a table of vhs tapes.


BAVASS in the news

Some content for this page has been excerpted from published articles by Rachael Stoeltje and from UITS Communications Office team member Amanda Chambliss.