Saving 37,000 Discs and Preserving UN Audio Heritage

Preview Language:   English
27-Oct-2018 00:02:12
The United Nations observes World Audiovisual Heritage Day on October 27th. During a hot summer in New York Headquarters, a team of archivists worked around the clock to protect almost 40,000 records.

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Over 37,000 UN audio recordings on discs have been kept in various storage areas over the years, as construction projects at UN Headquarters made it necessary for them to be moved from place to place.

They gathered dust. They suffered from the heat and cold while in the garage. Or in a trailer in the garden.

These less than ideal conditions put them at risk of being lost forever. The Audiovisual Library, in the Department of Public Information, made it its mission this year to find them a proper home and save these recordings.

A team of 15 people - AV specialists, information managers, staff and contractors - unpacked, cleaned, selected and inventoried thousands of items. It took seven weeks and was carried out with the support of the Facilities Management Section (Department of Management), and the Department of Security and Safety.

“The project shows how much a committed and motivated team can accomplish. It was thought to be impossible,” said Hua Jiang, Director of the News and Media Division.

In the end, all 37,000 records were dusted. Of these, 16,000 were appraised, selected, deep cleaned and dried. The rest were deemed duplicates, damaged or not historically valuable and were discarded. Each disc was inventoried and classified for further appraisal, selection, and digitization.

Those recordings, ranging from the 1940s to the 1970s, contain invaluable UN Radio programmes, interviews, special events, and concerts. They represent content from regional offices, peacekeeping missions, UN Headquarters, and other UN entities.

The disc project is part of the wider digitization of the UN collection, made possible by a donation from Oman.

“It has been the most challenging, but rewarding, project that my team has worked on in many years. We are now starting to make these recordings accessible to the public,” said Antonio da Silva, Chief of the Multimedia Resources Unit.

Over the years, the Audiovisual Library has played a crucial role in managing, preserving and providing access to a rich and unique collection of photographs, audio, film and video recordings about the work of the Organization.

On 27 October, it is joining UNESCO in celebrating the World Day of Audiovisual Heritage, which raises awareness of the importance of audiovisual archives around the world and urges measures to preserve and make accessible this heritage for future generations.

The Audiovisual Library holds over 1 million items, covering more than 70 years of the UN’s audiovisual history. Discover more by visiting our website.

Special thanks:

From Department of Public Information Alison Smale, USG Global Communications; Jaya Dayal, Special Assistant to USG; Hua Jiang, Director News and Media Division; Lydia Lobenthal, Special Assistant; Betty Perry, Secretary; Isabelle Broyer, Chief Audiovisual Service Section; Hak-Fan Lau, Chief of Services, and Admin Team Wally Clarkson, Editha Colosso, Thupten Tsering. Antonio da Silva, Chief Multimedia Resources Unit, Project Manager and MRU Team Andrea Ocampo, Greg Zeichner, Gabor Szilagyi, Brigitta Gabulya Uri, Linda Page, Nyi Nyi Teza, Adrienne Ilona Auth, Lou Ramirez, Shuo Li, Qingqing Hilary He, Sok-Min Seo, Ann-Sophie Person, John Mcilwaine, Zhiliang Yu, as well as SSAs Jordan Dotson, Cedomir Kovacev, Edina Papp and Zherina.

From Department of Management and ABM Contractors Claudio Santangelo, Chief Engineering and PES Team Michael Martine, David Pina, Claudio Conti, Joseph Orefice, Robert Fisher, as well as Ajkuna Angie Husic, Project Manager ABM Janitorial Services, Inc. and ABM staff Leonor Donis, Clinio Duran, Giuseppe Benincasa, Federico Berios, Harold Diaz, Ehsan Gholamzadeh, Thelma Ponce, Servete Ramaj, and Haris Mucic.

From Department of Security Services Matthew Sullivan, Noel Heffernan and Edmond Hansen.
Topical Subjects
UNTV; Producer
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