Discovering the archives of Slovenian Television
The archives of RTV Slovenia are partners in the EUscreen project, which promotes the use of television content to explore Europe's rich and diverse cultural history. As an associate partner TV Slovenia provides access to 1.000 digital audiovisual items, which are grouped into fourteen historical topics. Here the Head of TV Archives, Aleksander Lavrencic and Junior Documentalist Katja Šturm take us on a tour of their archives and content.
The archives were established in 1958, when Slovenian television started to broadcast their programmes. Radio Ljubljana had begun with a regular programme on 28 October 1928, while Radio Free Ljubljana had started to broadcast after the Second World War on 9 May, 1945 - liberation day. As the Archives and Documentation Service of RTV, which collects and classifies programme materials produced by our TV station, was founded at the same time as the broadcasts began, our archives have been well organized from the very beginning. We have a register of all programmes that have been broadcast by the studio of Ljubljana, ranging from the experimental ones transmitted in December 1957 to regular ones transmitted from 1958 onwards. Beside this, we have been drawing together details of foreign production together with written documentation on our own material.
Within the archive, visual material is carefully catalogued by content, which means that we can find every programme unit by the subject matter, time and place of origin, author, and also by the people that appear in it. Older material can be found in the card-files arranged by the subject matter, personal names, author, place and time. Since 1989 all data about the material has been entered in computers together with classification codes. The computer programme enables quick access to data according to either key words or classification code. The oldest documentary material stored in our archives is on film. The film fund of TV Slovenija consists of 20,000,000 meters of mainly 16mm film and a small amount of 35mm film and super 16mm film format. Of these 20,000,000 meters of film 36 % are in colour and 64 % are black and white and they represent approximately 1,600,000 minutes of TV programmes. They include programmes and film news items and foreign agency news.
We also hold a vast collection of photographic material which dates from the very beginning of our TV station and now includes over 400 000 items. We also keep in storage 142,000 units of written material about various programmes. Beside the basic data about the programme they often include the screenplay, outline, script, spotting list or any other form of written material concerning the programmes.
One of the biggest challenges of the TV archives is shortage of space. The storage place of TV Slovenia video archive totals 850 m2. This space was intended for this purpose from the very beginning and therefore meets the basic storage requirements. We try to maintain the temperature of 18˚ C and a relative humidity between 40 and 60 % in air-conditioned storage area. Both the temperature and the humidity are controlled daily. Unfortunately we do not have a special storage place for colour films which are recommended to be kept at lower temperature (- 5˚ C) and relative humidity (30 %). We keep them under the same conditions as black and white films. Issues of space also affect our ability to store magnetic tapes of all formats and video cassettes. The required conditions of storage (temperature of 18 to 21 o C and relative humidity from 35 to 45 %) can not be fulfilled, because the oldest tapes are kept together with films. The situation is similar in case of storing video cassettes.
Space is certainly a big problem, and the second problem is the ongoing fight against Vinegar syndrome, which affects the restoration and preservation of films. Our next task is digitization with the migration of materials to digital formats for presentation online. This digitization is partially being achieved by our involvement in the EUscreen project.
Television as a medium records events of national and international importance which is reflected in the archival and documentary material, kept and professionally treated in the archives of Slovenian national television. The material covers important political events such as the beginning of the war of independence, federal soldiers leaving Slovenia at the end of the war in 1991and the creation of the new state in 1991 and its declaration of independence, as well as significant national events such as the celebration of international worker's day in 1964, the visit of Pope John Paul II and the plebiscite for an independent Slovenia with a live broadcast from the press centre. The material also documents day to day life in Slovenia and includes an eclectic selection of programme footage including coverage of children being vaccinated against Polio in 1961, a day among the fishermen on the Sora River in 1970, the dangers of pollution and environmental concerns, a programme covering the mating habits of the moor frog which causes them to turn blue and the discovery of the world’s oldest musical instrument at Divje Babe, a flute which could date back to the time of the Neanderthals.
All of this material is made quickly and easily accessible to the programme workers of the television station and can now be viewed freely on the EUscreen portal along with a great deal of other material.
Aleksander Lavrenčič is a historian with a degree from the Faculty of Arts, Ljubljana and worked as an archivist at the Archives and Museum of the University of Ljubljana before joining the Slovenian TV Archives in 1999 and becoming Head of the Archive 2003.
The Archives and Documentation Service of the Television of Slovenia
tel.: + 386 (0)1 475 36 16
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