Key archives and what they do
Central archive: BBC Archive Centre, Perivale
National archive collections: Northern Ireland – Broadcasting House, Belfast; Scotland – BBC Scotland, Glasgow; Wales – BBC Cymru Wales, Cardiff.
Regional collections: Birmingham, Bristol, Hull, Leeds, London News, Manchester, Newcastle, East (Cambridge), Nottingham, Oxford, South West (Plymouth), Southampton, Tunbridge Wells.
The BBC’s archive is a programme library for a working broadcaster, funded as part of the licence fee. It holds over 400,000 television programmes, over 700,000 hours of video, and 300,000 hours of audio. The BBC also holds 1.1m items of commercial music, 4m photos and 500,000 other documents.
A media asset management strategy supports the input of new material, applies common standards for data and storage and serves the key customers – primarily internal and external programme makers.
Key issues for the BBC:
- Only holds some of the rights to its programme archive.
- Its Charter has only recently recognised the value of public access to the archive.
- It has to make the case for digitisation and web access within the context of constant financial restraint.
National Archives at J. Paul Getty Jr Conservation Centre, Berkhamsted.
Funded by government as a national collection, the BFI National Archive has its origins in the movement to conserve film history in the 1930s and was founded as the National Film Library in 1935, just two years after the establishment of the British Film Institute, as the fulfilment of the BFI’s remit to “maintain a national repository of films of permanent value”.
The Archive holds one of the largest and most diverse moving image collections in the world, from the earliest surviving films of the 1890s to contemporary feature films, and incorporating short fiction films, animation, newsreels, documentaries, amateur film and artists’ film and video.
The collections house more than 60,000 fiction titles and 120,000 non-fiction titles from the birth of cinema to the present day. It has also been systematically collecting television programmes since the 1980s, with the co-operation of the major broadcasters. The BFI’s Special Collections preserve over 600 collections of filmmakers’ personal papers, 30,000 unpublished scripts, 1.5 million film stills and a vast collection of film posters, production and costume designs, marketing materials and cinema ephemera and memorabilia, as well as over 12,000 objects from the former Museum of the Moving Image collections.
Additionally, the BFI maintains a library collection including over 53,000 books, some 240,000 periodicals and 190,000 press cuttings, as well as hundreds of hours of recorded interviews with key film and television personalities.
Current acquisition (and disposal) strategy is governed by an assessment of the art, history and impact of film, and is described in the BFI National Archive collections policy.
Key issues for the BFI:
- There is no statutory legal deposit for film or moving image in the UK.
- The collection has conserved film, but not acquired all rights to every film.
- Ongoing debate about what to acquire and to store in the digital age.