Beaton Institute celebrates World Day for Audio-visual Heritage

From October 27 – 30, Cape Breton University’s Beaton Institute will be celebrating UNESCO World Day for Audio-visual Heritage 2014. The Beaton will be showcasing several rare recordings and videos from the Institute’s Audio-visual Collection through social media. Highlights include a 1929 newsreel of the first landing of a transcontinental flight in Cape Breton, a tribute to Winston “Scotty” Fitzgerald, and the 1986 DEVCO tourism short film, Discover Your Own Special Place.

“The Beaton Institute is pleased to be at a point where we are able to share our audio-visual holdings with our researchers and community,” says Catherine Arseneau, Manager of the Beaton Institute. “We have worked closely with the Centre for Cape Breton Studies in making many of these now obsolete formats accessible again. Cape Breton Island has such a rich heritage in music, language and stories, and as the Island’s regional archive; it is important that we preserve and share these records. World Audio-visual Heritage Day provides a wonderful opportunity to focus on these formats and collections.”

Less than ten years ago, the Beaton Institute Audio-visual Collection was boxed and closed to the public for use; there was a moratorium on new donations. Since 2007 staff has actively worked towards the preservation and access of this tremendous collection. Over 2500 fragile audiotape reels were rehoused into archival quality containers. In key partnership with the Centre for Cape Breton Studies Digitization Lab, the Beaton Institute has facilitated the creation of over 5000 raw and streaming audio-visual digital files from the holdings. Staff handle several hundred requests for audio-visual items per year, from Cape Breton University faculty, staff, students, as well as external academic researchers, media professionals, and the general public.

“No other collection of sound recordings matches that of the Beaton in its breadth and depth – its time-span, its coverage of virtually all of the ethnic groups that comprise the island, and its documenting of the most important features of the culture of the island,” says Michael Taft, former Head of the American Folklife Center Archive at the Library of Congress. Taft reviewed the Beaton Institute’s Audio-visual Collection, which consists of over 3000 audiotape recordings and 2000 moving images items. The collection continues to grow, with the recent acquisitions of significant material from Rodeo Records and Cape Breton content from the CBC-Halifax Media Library.

The purpose of the UNESCO World Day for Audio-visual Heritage is to raise public consciousness of the importance of preservation of the world’s audio-visual heritage. Sound recordings and moving images are extremely vulnerable items as a result of technical, political, social, financial and other factors. Join the global festivities and increase awareness of our shared audio-visual heritage.
Visit cbu.ca/beaton for more information. To follow on social media, please like facebook.com/thebeatoninstitute and follow @beatoninstitute on Twitter to watch and share.

Further inquiries can be directed to Christie MacNeil, Digital Archivist Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University, (902) 563-1692.