Mark William Holmes
IS 208: Visual MaterialsųMetadata, Standards, and Best Practices for Digital Libraries
May 15, 2000
Standards and Practices for materials contained within the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound sections of the Library of Congress‚ American Memory website
American Memory <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ammemhome.html> is the online resource to the collections of the Library of Congress‚ National Digital Library Program. American Memory provides access to over seventy collections of photographs, films, recorded sound, maps, manuscripts, and other documents that help to explain the nation‚s history. Over 2.5 million items are now available and another 2.5 million are in production and will be posted before the end of the year 2000.
The Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound sections of American Memory are composed of a unique collection of eleven motion picture subjects and fourteen recorded sound groupings. Some collections, such as „Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film,š „Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929,š and „Inventing Entertainment: the Early Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies,š contain both moving image and recorded sound elements.
Standards are essential in order to facilitate interconnectivity and access. As with many other digital libraries the types of metadata standards that have been established for the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound collections are still in development. To point out the lack of standards within such other Library of Congress divisions as Prints and Photographs, Caroline Arms, an official of the National Digital Library Program and Information Technology Services, wrote that it was desirable to „∑find practical solutions in the absence of well-established standards and contribute to the informed development of standards where necessary.š However, metadata standards for audio-visual materials are currently being developed as part of the „Audio Visual Preservation Digital Prototyping Projectš http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/mopic/avprot/. A list of the AV Prototype Project Documents is available as a link off the website noted above at http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/mopic/avprot/avlcdocs.html. The National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia, which is a part of the project, is being designed as a repository where digitally reformatted and „born-againš recorded sound and moving image collections can be stored and experimented with to increase access to researchers. The facility is scheduled to open in 2003.
The Library‚s core metadata elements are being applied to the prototype project. Audio-visual elements were added to this core list in 1999, as well as a distinction made between information required for digital preservation and digital reformatting. The core metadata table characterizes digital objects using descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata. The prototype‚s scheme for technical metadata is a proposal that the Library of Congress‚ group responsible for the preservation reformatting of moving image and recorded sound collections is putting together. It has been derived from another Library of Congress team that is implementing the Artesia TEAMS (Thomas Editorial Asset Management System) software and from previous metadata activities at the Library. An explanation of these audio-visual metadata is available at http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/mopic/avprot/avmeta.html.
A structural metadata dictionary for Library of Congress‚ digitized materials is available at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/techdocs/repository/structmeta.html#intro. This dictionary includes a list that describes the „attributes,š or the inherent characteristics of moving image and recorded sound materials.
Many of the moving image and recorded sound collections from American Memory contain explanations of the technical standards that were followed in bringing the various elements online. Descriptions of how the collections were digitized and the technology that was utilized are highlighted in documents entitled „Building the Digital Collection,š available at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/techdocs/digcols.html. For example, for the „Origins of American Animationš collection copies were made of 35mm and 16mm prints and transferred to D2 composite digital videotape. A Beta SP videotape copy was made from the D2 master and the copy was subsequently digitized into MPEG and QuickTime versions. Because there were discrepancies between frame speeds as originally shot the playback speeds were adjusted to give the appearance of natural motion. The original 35mm prints from the „Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929š collection were subject to similar standards. The seven sound recordings included in this collection were taken from 78rpm phonograph records and copied to DAT (digital audiotape) and then converted to digital computer files in WAV and RealAudio formats. Some of the motion pictures from the „Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Filmš collection are from the Library‚s Paper Print Collection, which were paper rolls onto which positive images were printed frame by frame. These rolls were then transferred to 35mm film and subsequently to Beta SP videotape and digitized. Sound recordings originated from cylinder recordings which were transferred to 1/4-inch analog tape and then to DAT for digitization into WAV and RealAudio versions.
Explicit metadata standards for motion picture and recorded sound elements are under development as part of the AV Prototype Project, as noted above. I assume that once these standards have been agreed upon they will be applied to the American Memory collections. In my research I found that the one type of metadata that is currently being utilized for the motion picture and recorded sound collections is structural. The technical standards for making these collections available online have been described extremely well; however, technical standards are much easier to develop than are those for metadata.
Additional resources to consult about standards in digital collections include Caroline R. Arms‚ „Historical Collections for the National Digital Library: Lessons and Challenges at the Library of Congress,š Part I: http://www.dlib.org/dlib/april96/loc/04c-arms.html and Part II: http://www.dlib.org/dlib/may96/loc/05c-arms.html and Gail M. Hodge‚s „Best Practices for Digital Archiving: An Information Life Cycle Approachš http://www.dlib.org/dlib/january00/01hodge.html. The Library of Congress „Building Digital Collections: Technical Information and Background Papers,š available at
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ftpfiles.html, is also extremely informative.
 „March 2000: American Memory Historical Collection.š Featured Collection.
1 March 2000. Online. D-Lib Magazine 6, no. 3 (March 2000). Available:
 Arms, Caroline R. „Getting the Picture: Observations from the Library of Congress on
Providing Online Access to Pictorial Images.š Library Trends 48,
no. 2 (Fall 1999): 379-409. Online. American Memory: Library of Congress. Available:
 „Digital Repository for Audio-Visual Preservation: The Library of Congress Prototyping
Project.š AV Prototype Home Page. 8 May 2000. Online. Library of Congress Motion Picture
and Television Reading Room. Available: http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/mopic/avprot/. 8 May 2000.
 „Introduction to Metadata Elements.š Library of Congress Digital Repository Development Core Metadata Elements. 17 February 2000. Online. The Library of Congress Standards. Available:
http://lcweb.loc.gov/standards/metadata.html. 8 May 2000.
 „What is AV Metadata table?š AV Metadata Main Table. 14 January 1999. Online. Library of Congress Digital Repository Development: Core Metadata Elements. Available:
http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/mopic/avprot/avexpl.html. 6 May 2000.
 „Building the Digital Collection.š Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer
Economy, 1921-1929. 9 August 1999. Online. American Memory: Library of Congress. Available: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/coolhtml/ccdigit.html. 6 May 2000.