PBCore and Dance Heritage Coalition’s “Media Network”

Dance Heritage Coalition (DHC) is bravely and gracefully pioneering the field of dance preservation. As a consortium of institutions holding significant collections documenting the history of dance, they are the only national non-profit organization taking on the special challenges of this field. Those challenges include preserving a multi-format legacy and providing access to its riches while protecting copyright restrictions of the artists and choreographers. This is the aim of DHC’s online “Media Network”, a grant-funded project to create a union research database of dance-related moving images (searchable prototype available at http://archive.danceheritage.org). We were especially excited to learn that PBCore was being used to create their unique records, and grateful that Rebecca Fraimow, the hub manager for DHC’s New York preservation hub, offered to tell us how!

Rebecca and her fellow hub managers in Washington D.C. and San Francisco work with local artists to help them preserve their work and perform audiovisual conservation and preservation for the database at each of the hub’s digitization stations. So far they’ve made tremendous progress! While some member archives have performed digitization, the majority of film and analog tapes and born-digital files of one-of-a-kind materials, including performances and interviews, are sent directly to the hubs to be digitized and added to the database. The database currently holds 28,000 PBCore records mapped from MARC records and nearly 800 streaming video.

PBCore allows for each asset on the “Media Network” to include multiple, linked records, including the jpeg for the thumbnail image of the video still, the digital instantiation, for which technical metadata is captured automatically with the upload, the digital backup file, and a physical instantiation. PBCore data fields include form, identification, title, description, and relation to other material, which can be linked to contextual materials like posters, programs and reviews.

For description that is unique to performance, Rebecca and her fellow hub managers map the data to match PBCore fields where they can, adding their own attributes. For example, many of the records have long lists of creative collaborators, such as costume designer, composer, etc.

Streaming of the digital files is available through log-in afforded to member archives, libraries, and education centers in order to prevent unauthorized copying. However, the site makes discovery of the assets possible: the metadata on the front end is extensive and transparent, and anyone searching the union database – scholar, faculty, student, or the general public – can find the location of the physical instantiation.

PBCore might not seem like the obvious choice for the sole national dance-related repository, but in the absence of a performance-based schema, 2.0′s multi-part instantiations and breadth of fields for flexible mapping are supporting DHC’s most essential metadata requirements.

This fall Rebecca will bring her digital preservation skills and creativity to WGBH as an NDSR awarded resident and we are thrilled to welcome her! Congratulations, Rebecca, and thank you for sharing your PBCore experiences with us!

Written by Bryce Roe, intern for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. Interview with Rebecca Fraimow, Preservation Hub Manager for Dance Heritage Coalition.

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