Luke Power - Candidate Ref: 1621985

The BBC Archive

The BBC's Archive

The BBC archive showcases the BBC’s history through a variety of items from props and scripts to video/audio clips which enables users to get further information about their favourite programmes through a variety of items.

The archive is currently composed of set collections from archive Doctor Who items to Commonwealth Games footage. It is presented via the web which is effective for those who have access to the web but given the breadth of content there is scope to do so much more with the archive so that modern audiences can see earlier content from the BBC and provide further insights for them in addition to developing further brand loyalty from audiences.

The BBC have spent approximately ten years digitising half of the media content and due to improving work practices expect to complete the other half in five years. This could work to its advantage in that newer pieces of content could be added as and when they become available which will ensure that audiences can keep coming back and therfore build up their knowledge gradually.

The emergence of newer mediums such as mobile phones/tablets and the web means that audiences can be engaged in ways never seen before and as a result can be given an experience that enables them to engage in a more positive way with the BBC.

Archives outside the BBC

Archives outside of the BBC deal with cultural items and artefacts from British History and provides access for the general public so that they can engage with the past and increase their knowledge and expertise. Information is provided through exhibitions such as in Museums and Galleries or through websites where wider access can be given although users may not be able to physically touch the artefacts or items that are on display.

Museums and Galleries also have a vital part to play in conserving and preserving the items within their collections in addition to expanding it and providing new insights and knowledge for the general public. In all of these cases, the general public is able to dip in and out of the archives/collections where they can go as deep as they desire, link items and piece together their own knowldege and stories.

Although a variety of mediums are used by museums and galleries to tell stories and show their findings, they are only beginning to get to grips with these technologies and figure out how to use them in engaging with the general public, as such the BBC has an opportunity to do something ground breaking with their archive and act as a leader in regards to presenting archive content.

Examples of Archives outside the BBC include:

The National Archive is the UK’s official archive containing over 1,000 years of history and over 11 million items from digital files to parchments, letters and photographs. Their aim is to maintain records and ensure others can use it effectively and efficiently. They can provide insights and contexts to history through their archive of documents and parchments, which enables the public to receive insights and see the history through viewing the actual document as opposed to reading about it from a book.

The National Media Museum is home to 3.5 million items and categorises its collection into a variety of mediums, which are then further broken down into further collections, which gives items a collective sense of history while also being useable as individual items.

The British Library is home to 14 million books, 3 million sound records, 58 million patents and 920,00 journals and newspaper titles.

The Imperial War Museum is a unique collection covering all aspects of 20th and 21st century conflict involving Britain. Its collection is also categorised into further collections, which gives a context to individual items and the wider narrative of British conflicts.

The World Museum, Maritime Museum, Walker Art Gallery and Saint George's Hall. All four buildings are based in Liverpool and have a rich variety of works on display, their main focus is to provide access and information to their collections and enable visitors to discover the rich heritage that is contained within the collections. All four present their collections in a typical museum/gallery format which is appropriate for the content as many of the pieces are physical items that can be viewed.

Some of the exhibitions are supplemented with kiosk systems which are located within the exhibition space and provide another level of interaction within the exhibition space. These kiosks work well but with the advancement of mobile and tablet devices there is scope to take advantage of these newer technologies to really engage the visiting public further.

Conclusions

There is an opportunity to really do something with the BBC archive. The website works as a piece of content but so much more can be done to take advantage of new mediums and engage the populace with the wealth of information that is available e.g. archives of Doctor Who would be huge for the new generation of fans.

Archive footage would appeal to fans of all shows and give new meanings and understandings to characters new and old.

For the overall design a concise and focused theme is required so that the archives can be fit for any platform and utilise that specific platform’s traits but also fit in and stand alongside other pieces of content and platforms i.e. utilise a platform to its maximum e.g. TV as a viewing platform focusing mainly on video/audio content.

Therefore a story can be built up and developed within the archive, which will benefit the BBC in many ways and reinforce its set goals and aims to inform, educate and entertain.