Friday, October 2, 2009

Deferent Selection and Apraisal (Audio Visual Record)

By Helen P Harrison, Media Library Consultant, Open University, UK

What is selection.

Selection and its related activity; appraisal, are essential elements in collections management. Selection has an importance at all levels of collection from the lending or access situations, either by direct physical means or provision in data banks for electronic transmission, through to the national library and the archive. Selection is arguably the most important and at the same time the most difficult of all the activities of the archivist, curator or librarian, especially those dealing with audiovisual materials and imposes a discipline on the collector almost from the beginning. The very consideration of what to collect or how wide a range of material one includes in a collection is one of the first principles of selection.


This has been mentioned already and although it is closely allied to selection it may occur on a different timescale and has a different purpose. It is the intellectual decision making which should precede selection: it is the activity which attempts to determine the value and disposition of records based on their administrative and legal use; their evidential, informational or research value; their arrangement and their relationship to other records. Appraisal is also aimed at determining the intrinsic value of the material, that is records which have qualities and characteristics which make records in their intrinsic form the only acceptable one for preservation. eg. The presentation of a musical work as a recording or a series of pictures produced as a motion picture has an intrinsic value in the form presented: a piece of textual information has its own value, regardless of the form. It is argued that this concept adds another dimension to the selection and appraisal of audiovisual materials, and it is often a difficult decision to make for technical reasons. The form (not the format) of presentation acquires a greater significance for audiovisual materials.

In theory appraisal should precede acquisition, in practice it seldom does with audiovisual documents. Appraisal is usually applied to whole collections or bodies of material; the audiovisual archivist seldom has this amount of material to choose from, and has to deal in what has managed to survive until the point in time he is able to collect or preserve the material. Selection in audiovisual collections is more akin to 'reappraisal' to rationalise the collection.

Adapted from UNESCO

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