Digital Preservation & Access for Audio-visual Resources

A Two-day Cultural Heritage Preservation Summit, July 19-20

You are invited to participate in four separate sessions over two days that are meant to inform and provide a forum for sharing experience and expertise, support learning and exploration, and facilitate creative problem-solving. Bring your ideas and questions and join the conversation! Submit your questions here.

Accommodations may be requested via email by July 6, 2023 to


Day One: Wednesday, July 19, 2023

07/19/23 | 10:30a | Central Library, Community Room
Keynote: “Remaking Meaning in the Music Time in Africa Radio Archive”
Paul Conway, Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan School of Information
Examining the scholarly value of radio broadcast recordings from the Music Time in Africa program — the longest-running and most popular radio broadcast to the African continent by the Voice of America.

07/19/23 | 1:30-3:30p | Special Collections and University Archives | 1101 19th Ave. South, Conference Room 118
One-to-one consultations with Paul Conway on topics of audio-visual digitization and preservation are available. Register by email to with the words “consultation registration” in the subject line. You will have 45 minutes to consult and converse with Dr. Conway on an issue related to archives, audio-visual preservation and digitization. Please be aware that time slots are limited.

07/19/23 | 4:30-5:30p | Central Library, Community Room
An Open Dialogue on Digital Preservation
Tim Gollins, Director Special Collections and University Archives, Vanderbilt University
Paul Conway, Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan School of Information
Please submit your questions and ideas for the open dialogue.

Day Two: Thursday, July 20, 2023

07/20/23 | 9:00a-noon | Central Library, Community Room
Summit Workshop: “Topics in Audiovisual Heritage Preservation and Access”
Case studies on the theme of mitigating risk in different facets of digital preservation.
Paul Conway, School of Information, University of Michigan
Jim Duran, Television New Archive, Vanderbilt University
Martin Fisher, Center for Popular Music, Middle Tennessee State University
Rebecca Frank, School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Rogers Hall, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University


There is no fee to attend sessions, but we ask for registration in advance to ensure adequate seating and refreshment for those attending in person, as well as receiving links to material, and the link to zoom for those who will be participating online. Register at

Accommodations may be requested via email by July 6, 2023 to

Contact Elizabeth Batiuk for additional information.


Paul Conway  is Associate Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan School of Information. His research and teaching have focused on archival studies, the ethics of new technologies, and the digitization and preservation of cultural heritage resources, particularly audio-visual materials. Prior to joining the University of Michigan faculty in 2006, he was an archivist at the National Archives and Records Administration, Preservation Program Officer for the Society of American Archivists, and a senior administrator for the libraries at Yale University and Duke University. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan (1991) and is a Distinguished Fellow of the Society of American Archivists (1997).

Jim Duran  is the Director of the Vanderbilt Television News Archive. Before joining Vanderbilt, he worked at Boise State University for 10 years in Special Collections and University Archives. In both archives, his emphasis has been building digital collections and preserving audio-visual material. Duran has master’s degrees in library and information science and history. He specializes in library administration, born digital preservation, and western U.S. history.

Martin Fisher , Curator of Recorded Media Collections, has a B.S. in Broadcast Communications with a minor in Music from the University of Tennessee at Martin. Martin joined the Center for Popular Music staff in September of 2005 having accumulated and maintained a private collection/accumulation of sound recordings for over 40+ years and having 18 years experience in the field of television production with NewsChannel 5, WTVF in Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Fisher has played the trombone and is a self-taught fiddler who likes to jam with the Nashville Old Time String Band Association. His responsibilities include preserving, maintaining and augmenting the Center’s sound recordings collection, assisting researchers in locating and obtaining copies of recordings, and conducting acoustical ‘wax’ cylinder recording demonstrations as part of the Center’s outreach program. Martin is also a member of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, Tennessee Folklore Society and the (Winston) Churchill Society Of Tennessee (CSOT).

Rebecca D. Frank, Ph.D. , is an Assistant Professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is also affiliated with the Einstein Center Digital Future in Berlin, Germany. Prior to joining the faculty at UTK, she was the Einstein Center Digital Future Junior Professor for Information Management at the Berlin School of Information Science at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. Her research examines the social construction of risk in trustworthy digital repository audit and certification. She also conducts research in the areas of open data, digital preservation, digital curation, and data reuse, focusing on social and ethical barriers that limit or prevent the preservation, sharing, and reuse of digital information. She has a PhD and an MSI from the University of Michigan School of Information, and a BA in Organizational Studies from the University of Michigan. Her work has been supported by the Deutsche Stiftung Friedensforschung (German Foundation for Peace Research), the Einstein Centre Digital Future, the InfraLab Berlin, the National Science Foundation (United States), and the Australian Academy of Science.

Rogers Hall   is Wachtmeister Family Professor of Education, Emeritus at Vanderbilt University. With colleagues in the Space, Learning and Mobility (SLaM) Lab, he designs and studies learning environments that invite new ways to engage with STEM conceptual practices. These include studies of learning in ensemble and embodied activity (e.g., “walking scale geometry”, mathematical aspects of dance choreography), where mobility is both the means and content of what is learned (e.g., youth counter mapping to expand personal mobility), and by making and sharing “story lines” that extend public history as a way to bridge classrooms with city neighborhoods. Jefferson Street Sound Museum,  Nashville’s Historic Jefferson Street



Presenter: Paul Conway, Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan School of Information
Case Study: “Remaking Meaning in the Music Time in Africa Radio Archive”

Abstract: Music Time in Africa  is the longest-running and most popular radio broadcast to the African continent by the Voice of America. Ethnomusicologist Leo Sarkisian programmed, scripted, and sometimes guest-hosted the weekly 30-minute radio program from 1965 to his retirement in 2007. In 2015, the Voice of America transferred the entire analog contents of the Leo Sarkisian Library (nearly 10,000 magnetic tapes and grooved media) to the University of Michigan. With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, nearly 900 radio programs, the associated program scripts, and some of the ethnographic field recordings featured on the radio shows are now digitized and available for research, teaching, and general use through a custom designed interface.

The presentation is a technical and conceptual case study on the scholarly use of recorded radio broadcasts. Making use of ethnographic field recordings gathered in 1965 in Lofa County, Liberia and the radio broadcasts that utilized these recordings, the presentation reimagines the performative and memorial aspects radio and demonstrates some of the ways in which metadata derived from formerly invisible scripts transforms solitary and sole-broadcast audio programs into an archival corpus that can generate new meaning. The presentation makes some generalizable claims about audiovisual sources where the re-association of textual, audio, and visual archival sources changes the meaning of both. Concluding remarks suggest enhanced roles for archivists and librarians as interpreters of the archival collections they curate.

Music Time in Africa project:
Music Time in Africa Archive:

Case Studies

Presenter: Paul Conway, Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan School of Information
Case Study: Copyright Risk Assessment of Recordings of Live Music Recordings

Abstract: The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan is one of the oldest and most prominent venues for live performances of folk music in the United States. For over 35 years, the director and manager of The Ark recorded (with verbal permission) hundreds of performances at The Ark, initially for personal use and eventually as a record of the extraordinary depth and breadth of the venue’s bookings. Today, the Dave Siglin Collection at the University of Michigan comprises one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of unpublished folk music performances in the country. The workshop case study exposes and reviews the methodology of a pilot research project designed to overcome the barriers imposed by US Copyright Laws in a way that reduces but not completely eliminates liability risks to archives and libraries. The approach centers the rights of performers to grant permission for online streaming access, coupled with a policy of suspending access to streaming items in response to complaints or questions about rights. The workshop presentation raises questions about reducing the risks of digital access and provides access to a corpus of documents useful for further exploration.

Presenter: Jim Duran, Director of Vanderbilt Television News Archive
Case Study: Reel Intelligence: AI and ML tools for describing video collections
Category: metadata schema, computational archiving

Abstract: The Vanderbilt Television News Archive (VTNA) adds about 3 hours of video content to its collection every day, including weekends and holidays. That content is made available to patrons typically within three months of the creation date. To meet that expectation, in 2019, we started utilizing several automation tools. Today this includes, automated speech recognition, named entity recognition, python fuzzy matching, AWS lambda functions and most recently chatGPT’s summarization API. This case study will give a high-level overview of our workflow, a deep dive into one of the components, a review of the pros and cons of the automated approach, leaving plenty of time for a discussion of our approach and suggestions for similar applications.

This case study will be significant to any curators, archivists, or librarians with a substantial backlog of digitized video with little to no metadata. While our workflow may not be entirely reproduceable, there are many components that could be applied in a variety of moving image collections. The case study will also show the audience where we began the process of automation, some cost estimates, and basic requirements. The presentation would be most suited for audience members with some computer programming knowledge, but the speakers will not assume the audience has said knowledge. This case study will challenge the workshop to think computationally about their backlog challenges and consider the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach.

Presenter: Rebecca D. Frank, Assistant Professor, School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Case Study: Risk in Trustworthy Digital Repository Certification
Category: application of audiovisual digitization standards and best practices

Abstract: Trustworthy digital repository (TDR) certification is a relatively new phenomenon in the cultural heritage sector. The earliest repository certifications were issued in 2010 and since that time the organizations and systems involved in TDR certification have grown rapidly. Repositories that have achieved TDR certification include those focusing on the preservation of research data, government information, and cultural heritage information — all of which include audiovisual assets.

TDR certification systems such as TRAC and CoreTrustSeal are risk assessment processes that evaluate the trustworthiness of digital repositories to preserve digital information long-term against a set of criteria that are based on the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Model. Repositories seeking certification submit documentation to a team of auditors, who review repository policies and practices and award certification to those organizations that meet their criteria for trustworthiness.

I argue that risk is a social construct, and in this presentation will share the Model for the Social Construction of Risk in Digital Preservation that I have developed and tested through research projects focusing on the TRAC and CoreTrustSeal repository certification systems. I will also discuss the categories of risk that I have identified through this research: financial, legal, organizational, repository processes, and technical infrastructure, and the ways in which stakeholders in repository certification processes differ in their understanding of risk for digital preservation.

The results of this research demonstrate that the lived experiences of individuals carrying out the work of preserving digital information influence their perceptions of risk, which has implications for the long-term success of digital preservation efforts. This is particularly salient for repositories seeking to preserve audiovisual assets, as the work involved in the creation, preservation, and use of these materials includes people from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds.

Additional Resources

“Performers First: Gift Exchange and Digital Access to Live Folk Music Archives,” by Paul Conway and Robert P Markum. The American Archivist. Vol. 82, No. 2. Fall/Winter 2019

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