International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives

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International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives
World map
zone of influence
Abbreviation IASA
Formation 1969
Purpose Professional Body
Region served
Official language
En, Fr, Ge, Es
Ilse Assmann
Affiliations Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations
Website International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives

The International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) was established in 1969 to serve as a forum for international co-operation between archives, libraries, and individuals interested in the preservation of recorded sound and audiovisual documents.[1][2][3]

IASA aims[edit]

The IASA constitution [4] states the following purposes:

  • To strengthen co-operation between archives and other institutions which preserve sound and audiovisual documents.
  • To initiate and encourage activities that develop and improve the organisation, administration and contents of recorded sound and audiovisual collections, and, in pursuance of these aims, to co-operate with other organisations in related fields.
  • To study all techniques relevant to the work of sound and audiovisual archives and other institutions which preserve these documents and to disseminate the results of such study on an international scale.
  • To encourage, on an international level, the exchange of sound and audiovisual documents and of literature and information relating to these documents.
  • To stimulate and further by every means the preservation, documentation and dissemination of all recorded sound and audiovisual collections.


IASA has members from more than 70 countries representing a broad palette of audiovisual archives and personal interests which are distinguished by their focus on particular subjects and areas, for example: archives for all sorts of musical recordings, historic, literary, folkloric and ethnological sound documents, theatre productions and oral history interviews, bio-acoustics, environmental and medical sounds, linguistic and dialect recordings, as well as recordings for forensic purposes.

IASA activities[edit]

IASA promotes the open and ongoing exchange of ideas and information on current issues in the audiovisual field via annual conferences, an IASA Journal, list-serve and the IASA web site.

Annual conferences[edit]

IASA has held a conference each year since its inception, sometimes in partnership with related organisations.[5] In 2010, IASA and the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) came together for the first time in a joint IASA-AMIA conference held in Philadelphia, USA. With more than 750 participants and more than 100 presentations and lectures this was one of the biggest conferences in the audiovisual archiving field ever. The 2013 conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, was held in association with the Baltic Audiovisual Archival Council. The 2017 conference will take place in Berlin, Germany.


IASA follows closely the progress of technology and members can call upon a pool of expertise for help and advice on various aspects, ranging from digitisation to metadata to technical issues. In this regard, IASA has published a number of special publications:

  • Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects (IASA-TC 04)
  • The Safeguarding of the Audio Heritage: Ethics, Principles and Preservation Strategy (IASA-TC 03)
  • Handling and Storage of Audio and Video Carriers (IASA-TC 05)
  • IASA Cataloguing Rules (also a Spanish version as Reglas de Catalogación de IASA)
  • Task Force on Selection for Digital Transfer.
  • Ethical Principles for Sound and Audiovisual Archives

A new set of video digitisation and preservation standards, Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Video Objects (IASA-TC 06), is in preparation.

Awards and grants[edit]

The organisation issues awards for outstanding contributions to the profession of sound and audiovisual archiving, as well as financial support for research and for participating in annual conferences:

  • Since 2004 the IASA Award of Recognition for outstanding service has been awarded each year to an IASA member
  • The James A. Lindner Prize, awarded jointly by the IASA, the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) and the Southeast Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Archive Association (SEAPAVAA), recognises significant research in technology of preservation of moving images and recorded sound.
  • The status of Honorary Member of IASA is awarded to individuals as a mark of special service in the work of sound and audiovisual archives
  • Travel Awards are awarded annually to selected IASA members to offset the costs of active participation in an annual conference.
  • Research Grants are awarded on an occasional basis to support original research and publication on audiovisual archiving.


IASA has long standing relationships with international organisations such as UNESCO and Europeana and is a respected partner in various international audiovisual archive projects. IASA is a founding member of the CCAAA (Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archive Associations).

In 2012 and 2013, IASA hosted the official website of the UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, an event held annually on 27 October to raise awareness of the significance of and threats to sound and moving image heritage worldwide.

Committees and Sections[edit]

IASA Committees focus on topics that are of common interest to all archives and collections:

  • The Organising Knowledge Committee concerns itself with standards and rules as well as with systems, automated or manual, for the documentation and cataloguing of audiovisual media;
  • The Discography Committee deals with standards and recommended practices, as well as current and ongoing projects involving published recordings;
  • The Technical Committee devotes itself to all technical aspects of recording, storage, preservation and reproduction, including new recording transfer and storage technologies.
  • The Training and Education Committee concerns itself with audiovisual archiving Training & Education, as well as concentrated actions in gaining multifunctional training and education material.
  • The Europeana Sounds Task Force is developing sustainable mechanisms for the EC-funded Europeana Sounds (2014-2017) project.

IASA Sections provide a platform for the exchange of information between specific types of archives and collections:

  • The National Archives Section considers issues facing national collections, whether held in archives, libraries, museums or research institutions, e.g. acquisition policies, legal deposit, the management of large collections;
  • The Broadcast Archives Section handles the special responsibilities of audiovisual archives in broadcasting companies;
  • The Research Archives Section is concerned with special issues relating to audiovisual archives whose holdings include collections of recordings originally made for research purposes.

Regional branches[edit]

National and regional branches of IASA, with their own membership and activities, exist for Austria, Britain and Ireland, German-Swissgerman regions, Nordic countries, and Italy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lance, D. (ed.) (1984) Sound Archives. A Guide to their Establishment and Development. IASA Special Publication no. 4
  2. ^ Scharlau, Ulf. (1999). A personal review of thirty years of IASA (1969-1999). IASA Information Bulletin, August 1999, Special Issue, pp 8-11
  3. ^ Assmann, I. (2009) International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA). In: Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, Third Edition ISBN 978-0-8493-9712-7. Taylor & Francis
  4. ^ IASA constitution
  5. ^ IASA conferences

External links[edit]