The objective of the MoU is to increase public, professional and research access to audiovisual and broadcast content and integrating it with other knowledge collections. Integrating moving images with other media to enhance the research experience is central to the British Library's moving image plans. We don't need to build a new moving image archive for ourselves if there are constructive and mutually supportive ways in which we can work with existing moving image collections, and although we do have a modest moving image collection and plans to increase our moving image capabilities through a particular focus on news, the main target is to work with external collections. To this end we signed an MoU with the BBC in 2009 (as did the BFI earlier that year), the fruits of which we hope to be able to demonstrate to researchers in the not too distant future.
The MoU has been signed by BFI Director, Amanda Nevill and British Library CEO, Dame Lynne Brindley. It outlines key areas for joint strategic thinking, including public access, rights management and digitisation. Through a joint steering committee we will be exploring such areas as:
- collecting policies;
- contributing to IPR (intellectual property rights) and copyright discussions;
- metadata and resource discovery;
- how new digital technologies and enhanced physical spaces can improve access to film and television content;
- digital and paper conservation;
- exhibitions and public programmes;
- and how both institutions can offer services for the creative industries.
It takes time to develop successful relationships between such organisations, and any fruits from such an understanding may take a while to grow. However, we will not be starting from square one. Over the past year, our two organisations have been collaborating as members of the UK Sound & Vision Collections group, convened in 2010 by the BFI to look at national audio-visual collection policy. A letter from the group announcing its formation was recently sent to Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries. Other group members comprise the BBC, the National Archives, the Imperial War Museum, the National Media Museum, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales and National Museums Northern Ireland.
To have these bodies all sitting around the same table discussing how best to collect, care for and make accessible the UK audio-visual heritage (sound and moving image, please note) is not insignificant. Researchers of any kind have a right to expect good things from such a coming together, and it is our duty to live up to such expectations. Having the BFI and the British Library sign up to their own understanding is an important stage in what promises to be an exciting process.
Keep watching the screens.