PBCore: Coming Into Its Own?

I was worried that a session on ‘metadata’ at the Open Video Conference would not attract many participants, especially toward the end of a long day.    But we had a full house at our PBCore session  – a room crowded with more than 40 people who were there explicitly to hear about metadata,  PBCore in particular.

Linda Tadic gave an excellent overview of how metadata organizes information in order to catalog objects, and Dave Rice followed with specific examples of use cases for groups using PBCore, like WNYC Radio Archives, 25 years of Fresh Air programs at WHYY, and the Dance Heritage Collection collaborative catalog. Then Chris Beer spoke about PBCore update activities and the website.

Much of the material was technical and descriptive, very concrete for video users. But it seemed to be just what the attendees were looking for – they took copious notes, and even though the workshop was scheduled near the end of a long day, no one left – everyone stayed until the session was over, and many followed us into the hallway asking questions and wanting more.

Needless to say, it was quite exciting to have a disparate group of web producers and videophiles eager to learn about something as geeky as metadata.   We were very surprised, but totally gratified.

A few weeks later at the AMIA conference in Philadelphia, there were several sessions on metadata and PBCore, also full. Now I would expect that a gathering of moving image archivists should be interested in metadata, but this year it was more than casual – it was one of the central themes, and during the entire week there was continuous conversation about PBCore and other descriptive metadata standards.

It struck me that the light bulb has finally gone off — not just archivists, but video producers and television and radio broadcasters are finally realizing the importance of S & M (standards and metadata!) and that good metadata is a MUST for log-term access to their digital productions.

And they have discovered PBCore as both a useful and a usable tool to describe and help manage their precious creations.   All the more reason to finalize the improvements in the schema and create new training aids, to keep up the forward momentum.

Nan Rubin

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