Share in our discoveries across three projects as we work to provide the first intellectual access to our hidden treasures relating to work and labor in early 20th Century New England, the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair and its period, and Boston local TV news.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Boston AV Cataloging Workshop Scheduled for Sept. 27

This workshop is fully enrolled. (29 August 2011)

For special collections, historical society and archives managers and staff, lone arrangers, LIS students.

Register here (bottom of page)

--Are you responsible for analog and digital audiovisual collections?

--Do you want to create and share catalog records using common content standards?

--Are you ready to explore PBCore?

Find out how to deal with moving images like these:

  • 16mm football films might thrill the Development office
  • Videos for course-related screenings and research
  • VHS oral histories crying out for transfer
  • Thesis films (or what is really in those cans?)
  • ¾-inch video community cable collections
  • Promotional AV and corporate works in all media

Full-day workshop with hands-on introduction to content standard and data structure selection for moving images (film and video).

We will concentrate on PBCore, the metadata standard established in 2005 specifically for audiovisual media assets and rapidly gaining a community of practice; and its use in conjunction with DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard) to help support findability--and more efficient management of your analog and digital audiovisual holdings.

Workshop will include demonstrations of PBCore’s value in describing intellectual content, rights, and technical metadata; discussion of “More Product, Less Process” decisionmaking for under-resourced AV collections; explore implementation of DACS/EAD and PBCore through an open-source collection management system.


Brian Graney, Media Cataloger, Northeast Historic Film. MLS from SUNY Buffalo. Graduate of the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation at George Eastman House. Served as Director of the Board, Association of Moving Image Archivists; also Co-founder and Board Member of the Center for Home Movies. Past positions include Senior Archivist, New Mexico State Records Center and Archives; and Film Preservation Technician, UCLA Film and Television Archive.

Andrea Leigh, Head, Moving Image Processing, Library of Congress, Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation. B.A., Theater Arts, and MLIS from UCLA. Leigh has published articles on the description and cataloging of archival moving images in a variety of publications, comments and consults widely on metadata standards for the description of moving image resources, and is active in AMIA, SAA, and ALA. Previously she was Catalog and Metadata Librarian, UCLA Film & Television Archive (2000-2008).

Courtney Michael, Project Manager, WGBH Media Library & Archives. MA in US History and an MLS (University of Maryland). Manages WGBH’s Mellon-funded digital library project. Also manages the American Archive Content Inventory Project team at WGBH; funded by CPB to collect PBCore compliant records from public media repositories nationwide. Producer for the redesign of, the metadata dictionary site, and consulted on the NOVA Web site re-design regarding subject selection, metadata structure, and cross-walking with other taxonomies.

Boston TV film cansTO BE HELD AT
Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences Tech Lab, 1 Palace Road Building, second floor, Room P-213. Please arrive promptly by 9 a.m. to register. Coffee available in the morning.

Public Transportation Suggested: MBTA Green Line E train outbound Heath Street/Arborway to the Museum stop. Exit train. Take a right onto Louis Prang Street and walk past the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Drivers, on campus parking is available for $12 additional at time of registration only. Without prior registration, Simmons parking is $50/day. Or find a local metered spot.

Directions at

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Instantiations: Formatted Data and Narrative

 [1938 Kodachrome of NYC + Jones Beach] 1999:0078:0001, George Eastman House
A drive by the New York World's Fair site under construction

Students at the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, George Eastman House, are trained in film handling and inspection. What information gathered during film inspection will we pass on to researchers in our catalog records, and what do researchers want to know? First, a reminder about the PBCore structure. Each reel has one Intellectual Content record, a set of elements describing what the reel is about, independent of its physical or digital existence. Each reel also has one or more Instantiation records, consisting of technical metadata describing the asset’s physical attributes (format, condition, location).

As skilled film handlers, the Selznick School students identified and captured information that tells us not only its present condition, but about its creation: often there are date codes indicating what year the film stock was created, and sometimes camera codes that reveal the type of camera used. Splices can tell how the creator edited the film, and whether a reel may come from one or more sources. Assessing condition, in particular shrinkage or vinegar syndrome, guides the custodians as to care of the artifact. The Instantiation record for the original material is important from a conservation point of view, and potentially holds information of interest to researchers, for example, was the reel shot on 8 mm. or 16 mm. film?

[1938 Kodachrome of NYC + Jones Beach] 1999:0078:0001
George Eastman House

Some Instantiation information is easily captured in structured fields as we are presently doing using PBCore’s formatPhysical element. Use of picklists and formatted elements ensures consistency in the data collected. However, our discussion indicates there may be a place for a more complex Instantiation narrative; as one student points out, “Some things like the film being upside down and our not being able to determine if that was intentional.”
NHF Media Cataloger Brian Graney shared film inspection notes recorded by Bob Brodsky while transferring a film from the Charles Gilbert Collection, “not simply documenting the number and types of splices. A speculative story about the process based on the evidence in the film.” Graney posits that such narrative “may not be possible or useful in every case so it may be that two different types of technical description could exist side by side--the basic description, element by element--where that’s sufficient to record. That supplemented by a narrative statement where something becomes clear."

The students had strong arguments for both formatted metadata and for narrative about the material condition:

...there can be some uniform information. Like boxes or bullets. Then there can be some space for small narrative. So the inspector is not being redundant, so if you have shrinkage space you are not repeating information in the narrative, but if you want to tell something else you have space.
We discussed how much of the PBCore Instantiation data should be presented directly to the researcher. While one student felt an unprepared researcher would find this information "chaos," another felt that the physical description was important to understanding the nature of the record, what it is, how it was made, and what kind of care original film requires:
Why should that be hidden from the users? Its part of the story of the film....And also it’s part of educating the users about what the film is and the fact that it has splices and they can come apart. And it’s old and it changes color and all this kind of thing. For this project I think the narrative works.1939 NY World's Fair--Jeanne at Y camp--home movies] T200.1.442WF39
Queens Museum of
The consensus from the Selznick School discussion may be that a structured Instantiation record gathers baseline technical information, supplemented by a narrative in the Annotation element expanding on the inspectors’ findings. For analog assets such as camera original amateur films, careful and knowledgeable inspection of the film and its box or can gathers valuable information left behind once a digital copy is made.