The survey instrument consists of a Microsoft Access relational database designed for use by librarians and archivists who are not experts in recording media. It is not necessary to be familiar with Access in order to use the instrument, nor is media playback equipment required.
Applicable either to an item-by-item inventory or a random-sample survey, the instrument allows for but does not require collection of a great deal of detail about each item. Most fields provide drop-down menus to minimize keying and to assure consistent use of vocabulary. Technical terminology is based on that used by the Audio Engineering Society, Association of Moving Image Archivists, and other relevant organizations.
The survey provides a mechanism for setting preservation priorities based on:
- Quantities and types of audio and moving image materials
- The physical condition of the media and their housings based on visual inspection
- Information about existing levels of intellectual control and intellectual property rights
- The potential research value of each collection. A five-point scale is employed to rank items from high to low in each area.
Survey-wide reports and collection-specific reports can be generated, as well as lists of collections ranked by research importance and degree of physical damage, and lists of the different media.