Film and Sound - The National Library of Jamaica

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
  • travelogues
  • literary readings
  • oral and musical performances
  • music recordings.


Audio Collections

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.

Phonographic Recordings

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

Video Tapes

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.

Film Collection

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.

Other Carriers

These include microfilms and the Jamaica Tourist Board slides. The activities in these areas are centred on maintenance measures, such as preservation, documentation and accessibility.


The Audio-Visual Department is engaged in a digitization project with the goal to digitize the entire film and sound collection to provide greater access to the audio-visual heritage and as part of its effort to conserve the original documents for posterity.