International Council on Archives Photographic and Audiovisual Archives Group (ICA/PAAG)Ajuntament de Girona. Placeta de l'Institut Vell, 1.17004 GIRONA (SPAIN)Tel. +34 972 221 545Fax +34 972 202 694


At the 1984 International Congress in Bonn a Working Group on Film Archives has been established to address the needs of new media in archives: the recorded sound, the moving image and the photographic documents. The Working Group was chaired by a representative of the Canadian National Archive (1984-1985), a representative of the Netherlands Government Information Service (1985-1994) and a representative of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (1994-1996). It was discontinued in 1996.

The Group became the full Committee on Audiovisual Archives of ICA, CAA. The Committee represented ICA also at the Round Table of Audiovisual Archiving Associations, later to be the Coördinating Committee. In these years ICA found itself more often than not at the receiving end of information and technical development and contributed little beyond the trusted and valuable principles of ‘traditional’ archive management. There was a two-track movement. Specialised AV archives, especially within the broadcasting environment, saw rapid successive technical developments, that had consequences for all reaches of audiovisual document management, from intake through conservation and cataloguing to re-use and research. The importance of these developments only gradually brought the understanding that modern media are documents in their own right, different from written or printed materials. Different also from photographic materials, that were at first included in the Committee's range of activities. It was found, at the state of affairs in these years, that the treatment of still photographs, their evaluation, conservation and research was different from moving images and recorded sound materials. Also, there was no international NGO focussing on this category of media. It was beyond the Committee's capacities to give this area the quality of sustained attention that it merits.

At the same time the wide range of ICA member Organisations put additional demands on the whole programme for AV archiving. On the one hand there are highly developed archiving organisations that are most concerned with digitisation and the development of virtual documents, on the other hand there are those that are smaller, or less developed, and had first to address questions regarding, say, the preservation of their video tapes or magnetic recordings. Therefore, in 1996, it was considered more useful to channel resources and information from specialised NGO’s like IASA, FIAT, FIAF, AMIA, and others, to the ICA membership, than to start up a separate programme. At the same time it was realised that no progress would be made unless with the contributions and help from the other ICA committees, branches and sections. At the time the efforts of ESARBICA (East and Southern Africa branch), and more in particular in Moçambique and Namibia among others, in AV archiving were remarkable, also given the special status of recorded sound and visual documents for traditional societies.

New Start

During the May 2009 meeting at Tamanrasset in Algeria, audiovisual archiving was once more put on the agenda, and the participants agreed to create for that purpose the Photographic and Audiovisual Archives Group, PAAG. It was realised that so much had changed so quickly through the intervening 13 years since the discontinuation of CAA, that proactive measures were called for now. The developments in the realm of digitisation, the extent of metadata that may be generated, issues like automatic cataloguing, etc., in specialised archives began to influence ‘traditional’ archives profoundly – and at the same time the issues that less developed archives are faced with are modified, but not solved, by these new developments.

PAAG considers itself to be an actor for ICA membership, not a passive reactor. In 2010 PAAG was established as follows:

  • Chair. Mr. Joan Boadas i Raset (Spain), Director Municipal Archives of Girona, General Manager Catalan Film Museum at Girona, former president of the Spanish and Catalan associations of archivists.
  • Coördinator. Mr. David Iglesias Franch (Spain), MA in History from the University of Barcelona, technical coordinator of the Centre for Research and Dissemination of AV materials (CRDI) of Catalonia.
  • Ms. Isabel Wschebor Pellegrino (Uruguay), MA in Social Science, historian and archivist in charge of safeguarding AV collections, Universidad de la República at Montevideo.
  • Mr. André Porto Ancona Lopez (Brazil), professor of Information Science at the University of Brasília, i.a. responsible for postdoctoral courses in research methodology.
  • Mr. Dennis Maaike (SA), Director of the National Archive of Film, Video and Recorded Sound of South Africa.
  • Mr. Stephen J. Fletcher (USA), MA in Museum Science, Curator of the historic photograph collections of California and Indiana, board member of the Round Table on Metadata and Digital Objects, SAA.
  • Mr. David Smith (New Zealand), MA in Archive Science, senior adviser for audiovisual collections at the National Archive of New Zealand
  • Ms Michelle Boshof (SA), archivist of photographic collections of the National Archive of South Africa.



PAAG is concerned with all photographic materials from the daguerreotype on including supporting documents and objects, to moving images and or recorded sounds, including all supporting documents and objects, together called ‘audiovisual archives’, such as are kept in general archives.

In order to reach its goals PAAG shall cooperate with third parties as well as with regional projects as PRESTOSPACE (Preservation towards Storage and Access Standard Practices for Audiovisual Contents in Europe), TAPE, and others.

PAAG seeks:

(1) to develop guidelines for the development of photographic and AV collections;

(2) to develop understanding and experience among archivists related to treatment, access, management, etc. of such collections;

(3) to contribute to the establishment and financing of appropriate training courses;

(4) to create a forum for communication and cooperation.

It would seem at the present moment that no new initiatives have to be taken by PAAG, pending the outcome of research being made by other NGO’s – there is no particular need to re-invent the wheel. Later, ICA membership will be presented with a choice of instruments, which include manuals and guidelines regarding issues like metadata, cataloguing, copyrights, digital management, etc.

In 2011 a start has been made with what PAAG calls a ‘survival kit for the audiovisual archivist’, consisting of manuals regarding methodology, standardising, software, conservation, all manuals being on line and intended for the non specialised archivist.

Note, that AV archiving has the full attention of an NGO traditionally focused on archiving written materials. Furthermore, note the Spanish and other involvement in PAAG, in contrast to the general inclination to start looking for relevant information mainly from Anglo-American sources.