Canada’s National Film Board risks losing large portions of its library because it lacks the technology to digitize the aging collection.
Much of the NFB’s library of more than 13,000 films is in peril because the agency’s catalogue is "largely non-digitized" and could deteriorate, says an internal audit obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
"Transferring films to digital would help the physical protection of the collection in the long term," says the audit.
Spot checks performed on the film board’s storage vaults satisfied an auditor that the library is being well-maintained. The library’s master copies are kept in temperature- and humidity-controlled vaults, which are specially ventilated and air-conditioned.
But the audit, which was prepared this spring, found continued handling and reproduction of the films leaves them prone to deterioration. The audit found about 300 boxes, on average, are moved to and from the storage vaults each day.
"Creating digital master copies reduces the risk of the original material deteriorating, an evident risk when the film has to be handled for the purposes of reproduction," it says.
This is not the first time the film board has flagged its library as a cause for concern. The NFB warned the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in April 2005 that the "vagaries of time and the repercussions of repeated budget compressions have put the NFB collection in peril."
Without digitizing the collection and renewing rights to its films, the agency also cautioned the collection verged on fading into "nothing more than a memory."
Over the years, the film board’s productions have garnered more than 5,000 awards, including 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies.
Beyond the library’s financial value, the audit says it also "represents an invaluable asset for future generations."
<font size=1>Release courtesy of The Canadian Press.</font>