Film and Sound
The Audio-Visual collections are available in a number of formats including phonodiscs, music and spoken-word audiocassettes, compact discs, videocassettes, and films containing:
- features on aspects of Jamaica’s culture and history
- archival footage of historic events and noteworthy places
- interviews with outstanding Jamaicans, including educators, authors and artists
- documentaries on political and social issues and the environment
- literary readings
- oral and musical performances
- music recordings.
Reel-to-Reel Audio Tapes
It is estimated that the collection contains approximately 3,600 audio items on reel-to-reel tapes. Donation of playback equipment to transfer to digital formats will be greatly appreciated.
Our commercially obtained phonographic music collection includes 78s, 45s and LPs. Although these are no longer popular music formats, they contain invaluable historical data. Additionally, playback equipment is available and these sound recordings can be easily transferred to other media should the need arise and copyright conditions permit. The emphasis here is to preserve samples of all music formats to enable future generations to retrace the evolution of our music industry and to understand the rich cultural stories that are preserved through this medium.
Moving Image Collection
The Department has most video formats. It has equipment for S-VHS, VHS, BETACAM SP and DV formats and is in the process of identifying playback equipment for the obsolete ones. We have access to playback equipment for Umatic tapes and we are now in the process of migrating data in obsolete analogue formats (e.g. Umatic) to digital ones.
The Department has approximately 3.5 million feet of 16 mm (mostly Black and White) archival films. These items are in varying conditions and in order to save the data an on-going process of film inspection is maintained. Those under threat of data loss are isolated, treated and migrated to other formats. Therefore, the Department is engaged in a ‘rescue’ mission to salvage data from the archival film footage in its collection.
These include microfilms, slides, photographic negatives and prints. The activities in these areas are centred on maintenance measures, such as preservation, documentation and accessibility.
The Audio-Visual Department is engaged in a mini-digitization project to digitize selected items from its collections to provide greater access to its audio-visual heritage and as part of its effort to conserve the original documents for posterity.
How to Access the Audio-Visual Collections
The Audio-Visual Department receives numerous requests, from both local and overseas enquirers, for information from its collections. The preparatory work involved in processing most of these queries is time-consuming. Therefore it is advised that requests be placed ahead of scheduled use to facilitate re-packaging.
Any person who wishes to access items from the audio-visual collections is required to complete and submit the prescribed form (Download form), which states explicitly what information is needed and for what purpose. This is very important because it allows the Department to research the answer and to schedule appointments for any clients who wish to listen or view on site.
The established procedure for obtaining items from the collection is to:-
- Download and complete the requisite form, outlining the nature of the request.
- Ensure that accurate contact information is provided.
- Allow two weeks for the query to be processed - Rush work can be considered.
- Please note that there are charges attached to this service (Fees).
- Indicate willingness to comply with Conditions for Use of the Material by signing the agreement document.
Follow procedures stated in the document:
After the query has been processed and the conditions have been fulfilled, the item can be duplicated for distribution. These terms are included in the agreement document. One of the conditions is that a copy of the finished product in which the information was used be deposited with the Library.
Although the National Library attempts to collect all Jamaican audio-visual items the public may not have access to everything because there are specific conditions attached to some non-commercial items. These include specific terms of agreement between the National Library of Jamaica and each donor concerning usage of the donation. The terms of each donation will specify whether the material should be made available for research, study and/or duplication and dissemination. These terms must be considered prior to making any contractual arrangement with persons who request items.