Hans Westerhof: Paying the Cost of Access

Hans Westerhof, deputy director at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and program manager of the Images for the Future project spoke about the cost that access bears on archives in a digital world in the panel Materiality and Sustainability of Culture.

The traditional archive of Sound & Vision consists out of 21 vaults, spread out over 5 floors in a building that opened in 2006. In the digital domain, the institute collects over 1 petabytes a year in both daily broadcasting ingest and the results of the Images for the Future project. The physical archive is contiuously starting to look very different: servers are replacing vaults (13-15 PB exected in 2014).

But what really weighs upon the budget, is not necessarily the storage costs (however we, as archives, have a firm disadvantage when it comes to negotiating server costs, as this is a new terrain to us), but the cost of access. Broadcast professionals and public users expect immediate digital hi-res downloads, which brings along:

  • robot tape-arms
  • proxies for all hi-res videos
  • software for creating proxies & restore
  • management system for data files

Sound and Vision is working hard at other ways of access through user generated content and metadata (wiki, openimages, waisda, collaborations with wikipedia) and education programs which tend to be project-based (academia, ed-it).

We can control the cost of access in numeorous ways, but the bottomline is that by going digital we create a lot more (re)use, which is a costly success.

We (the cultural heritage institutions) need to become better at:

  • going digital (get real, get digital, understand and own the subject matter which is often new to our institutions)
  • collaborating ( think and act beyond institutions boundaries, share platforms, create economies of scale)
  • negotiate (with service providers & private companies)
  • improve on arguing the value & benefits of our case (we’re creating monetary value for others and should start thinking within the framework of people that can help us out)