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World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

Today marks World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, a day for recognizing the significance of preserving audiovisual documents, including radio and television broadcasts, as well as sound and video recordings. In today’s world, a huge amount of audiovisual material is created every day, including film and television program recordings, not to forget the millions of videos uploaded to social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.  

These audiovisual records reflect our world, the topics we are interested in as well as the diverse cultures and languages we communicate in.  

Music, for instance, allows people to connect with the culture of the time it was created. We often listen to songs to remind ourselves of certain times, not just in our own lives, but through history. Take the works of Dylan Thomas (Who’s birthday is today by the way), and the recordings of him reading his poems. Losing these recordings would be a loss to Welsh cultural heritage. Similarly, television programs like “Bake-off” hold cultural significance, alongside many others that become culturally important over time, justifying their preservation.  

Ensuring the preservation of these materials is essential for future generations to comprehend our world.  

Attempting to preserve all content is a mammoth task, highlighting the challenges archivists face. They must make choices regarding what to retain, raising funds for the costs of server maintenance and addressing the degradation of digital files, as well as dealing with the issue of file formats and hardware becoming obsolete. Balancing accessibility for the widest audience while also safeguarding these valuable records presents its own set of dilemmas. Addressing these concerns is part of archives services’ mission to protect and share our audiovisual heritage for the future. 

James Southerby
Archives and Records Council Wales

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