The BBC News Archive
For U.S. readers looking for a more complete view of world events than American publishers are willing to print, this should be VERY welcome news indeed. The BBC move also presents a chance to look at specialized archival collections, collections in this case special by the form of the materials.
Moving picture archives often require a special set of skills to conserve the materials for public use, if not also specialized knowledge to help researchers access it.
Furthermore, a common misconception among the public is that one library is just like the next, according to InfoWorld writer Janet Balas. I think archivists must also watch out for user expections which do not help users cut through the myriad information sources at their disposal. Just like each library is different, so is each archive. The more we can do to help users identify what type of research tools will help meet their specific needs, the better off we'll all be.
If you're interested in digital archives:
Television News Archive
[This is a subscription service, unfortunately.]
For further reading:
"Digital Video, the Final Frontier" by Judith Thomas
Library Journal; Jan. 2004; 129, 1, pg. s8.
News release announcing BBC decision:
Greg Dyke, director general of the BBC, has announced plans to give the public full access to all the corporation's programme archives.
Mr Dyke said on Sunday that everyone would in future be able to download BBC radio and TV programmes from the internet.
The service, the BBC Creative Archive, would be free and available to everyone, as long as they were not intending to use the material for commercial purposes, Mr Dyke added.
"The BBC probably has the best television library in the world," said Mr Dyke, who was speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival.
"Up until now this huge resource has remained locked up, inaccessible to the public because there hasn't been an effective mechanism for distribution.
"But the digital revolution and broadband are changing all that."