Program Stream: The Third Leg of the Stool: Access, Outreach, and Use of Moving Image Archives

Posted on August 31, 2015



  • Casey E. Davis, Project Manager, American Archive of Public Broadcasting WGBH Educational Foundation
  • Johan Oomen, Manager, Research and Development Department, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
  • Rebecca Fraimow, Archivist, WGBH Educational Foundation


  • John Tariot, Chair, Copyright Committee
  • Ariel Schudson, Chair, Access Committee
  • Thelma Ross, Former of the Cataloging and Metadata Committee, supports the proposal. Support/Collaboration from C&M is tentative and will need to be re-approved by whoever is elected as the new Chair.

The Access and Use curated steam at a glance

Identify, preserve, and make accessible — this is the mission of the archival profession. Think of this mission as a stool with three legs. If one leg is missing, then the stool will topple over.

As a result of digitisation of analogue holdings and working processes, more and more material from audiovisual archives is being made available online. This marks a transformative shift, as archives and users are now sharing the same information space. Once digital and part of an open network, objects from audiovisual archives can be shared, recommended, remixed, embedded, cited, referenced to and so on. This shift towards digital enables archives to fulfill their public missions better; crossing geographical boundaries, using new channels for content distribution, engage with user groups and use new technologies to make work processes more efficient and allow for new access points to collections. For instance for research in the social sciences and humanities.

The curated stream brings together 30 speakers, consisting of seven sessions within the conference programme. Combined they show the breadth and depth of access and audiovisual collections:

  • Navigating copyright to provide access and use
  • Understanding What Users Need to Understand Us (and our data)
  • Moving beyond access: Unlocking the Potential of Moving Image Archival Collections
  • Methodologies for Assessment and Evaluation of Access to Moving Image Collections
  • Keeping it Real: Providing Access to Physical Collection
  • Tools and Technologies for Enhancing Access to Audiovisual Digital Collections
  • Apples and Oranges: Providing Meaningful Access to Mixed Media Collections

Next to the sessions the stream is complemented by a one-day workshop and a so-called “Pop-up” sessions, providing a space for AMIA delegates to share insights and showcase on-going projects.

Why we should discuss access?

As Gerhardt and Kaufman write, “For centuries, scholarship and self expression has revolved around text. The challenge today to educational centers is to produce students that can also express themselves, make their arguments, support their hypotheses, and cite and refer to television, films, radio and music – the dominant media of the last 100 years.”[1] We would add that a significant challenge today among archivists is to make collections accessible to users — from scholars and students to educators, filmmakers, and kids of all ages. Beyond access, moving image archivists need to advocate for the use of audiovisual materials in education, scholarship and lifelong learning.
Last year’s curated stream on Open Source Digital Preservation and Access covered some extremely thoughtful and innovative projects dealing with digital preservation of audiovisual collections. But once collections have been preserved in digital format, we need to focus on how we help more people use these digital collections and how we encourage more interesting and substantive uses. And stepping back, we must not overlook our physical collections when considering new and interesting approaches of providing access. How can we engage students and lifelong learners in the awareness and use of film in research and learning? How can we make inaccessible analog collections more discoverable?

Why does access and use present more challenges to moving image collections as opposed to manuscript and other text-based collections? Complex copyright issues, time consumption of item-level cataloging, technology costs, and inaccessibility due to media being stored on deteriorating analog formats are challenges that moving image archivists face when seeking to increase awareness and discoverability of their collections. And even more challenging is the fact that moving images often do not come to mind to many potential users seeking to discover history documented in archives.

The topic of access and use has been well covered in general archival literature and among archivists who deal with text-based and even photographic collections. Due to the nature of audiovisual archival materials, access and use must be approached differently, and new ways of thinking should be introduced to the community.

This curated stream will focus on projects and topics involving awareness, access, outreach and use of audiovisual archival materials.


Copyright 101 for Moving Image Archivists Workshop

  • Wednesday, November 18 8:30am – 5:00pm
  • Instructor: Andy Sellars

Presented by Andy Sellars, this workshop will provide attendees with a clear understanding of U.S. copyright law and the special considerations for online archives under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Attendees will learn about specific issues associated with moving images and sound, as well as exceptions to copyright, including fair use and the specific exemptions for libraries and archives, and the application of these exemptions in the digital world. The workshop will provide opportunities for attendees to work in groups to assess the copyright status of materials, conduct a fair use analysis, and review sample deeds of gift to assess risk of making a variety of types of moving image collections available online. Attendees will also learn about a variety of open licenses that can be used with donation and production agreements, and discuss the importance of obtaining necessary rights for long-term access. In addition, Andy will discuss the various methods of digital streaming and digital access and how copyright law in other countries impacts international access to archival materials.Andy Sellars is the Corydon B. Dunham First Amendment Fellow at Harvard Law School, and a clinical fellow at the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic, based at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

S1: Navigating Copyright to Provide Access and Use

Moderator: John Tariot


  • Andy Sellars, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School
  • Casey Davis, WGBH
  • Janel Quirante, University of Hawaii – West Oahu
  • Nadia Ghasedi, Washington University

In order to maximize the potential of archival access in the digital realm, archivists need to understand the copyright issues, risks and exemptions, and the means of navigating those issues within their institutions. In this session, Andy Sellars will report on copyright legislation in the pipeline which will potentially affect access by libraries and archives. Casey Davis will discuss lessons learned through navigating copyright issues pertaining to digitized public media content in the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. Janel Quirante will describe the experience and workflows associated with copyrighted collection material at the University of Hawaii, including donor relations and University of Hawaii’s levels of access based on a fair use analysis. Finally, Nadia Ghasedi will share some of Washington University’s copyright dilemmas and make the case for a copyright best practices guidelines for moving image collections.

S2: Understanding What Users Need to Understand Us (and our data)

Moderator: Jean-Pierre Evain, EBU


  • Amy Ciesielski, University of South Carolina
  • Sadie Roosa, WGBH
  • Ed Benoit, Louisiana State University
  • Laura Treat and Julie Judkins, University of North Texas

How do different types of users access media archives? What are the searching methods of different types of users? How do archives take these needs into account in providing high quality and necessary descriptive metadata about moving image collections? Some archives have sought engagement with users to crowdsource description of archival holdings; what are the key differences in crowdsourcing requirements for moving image collections? These questions have largely been answered in general archival literature, but until now they have not been addressed in the area of audiovisual collections. Amy Ciesielski will present her research on user needs analysis of digital moving image collections. Laura Treat and Julie Rudkins will report on their preliminary findings of research into the information seeking behaviors of documentary filmmakers. Ed Benoit will report on research in crowdsourcing metadata for audiovisual collections. Sadie Roosa will discuss her workflows and experiences establishing guidelines for “Minimum Viable Cataloging” through the American Archive of Public Broadcasting.

S3: Moving beyond access: Unlocking the Potential of Moving Image Archival Collections


  • Johan Oomen, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
  • Erica Titkemeyer, Southern Folklife Collection, UNC Chapel Hill
  • Lily Troia (Simmons College) and John Campopiano (Frontline)
  • Jennifer Steele, YOUmedia, Chicago Public Libraries

Once the public has access to our digital moving image collections, what can they do with them? This presentation will focus on ways that archives can inspire users such as scholars, educators, students, artists, journalists, etc., to use their collections in innovative and nontraditional ways. How can archivists encourage experiential and inquiry-based use of moving image collections for research and learning? The presentations will cover methodologies, experiments, and report on meetings with scholars on ways of using moving image collections to the full potential of their value. Finally, this session will discuss some of the implications for archives of these less traditional uses of the materials and how this might affect moving image archives in the long term.


S4: Methodologies for Assessment and Evaluation of Access to Moving Image Collections

Moderator: Dave Rice, CUNY


  • Karen Cariani, WGBH
  • Deborah Steinmetz, Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive
  • Eric Saltz, NC A&T State University

Understanding the needs and expectations of users is critical to providing access to moving image archival collections. In developing preservation and access systems, archives can engage with users in the development and design phase, assessing the needs to determine functional requirements. After an archive launches new initiatives to provide access to its collections, evaluation is necessary to monitor program success and to ensure that user needs are being met. During this session, panelists will discuss methodologies of user-centered design and evaluation, including both qualitative and quantitative forms of research.


S5: Keeping it Real: Providing Access to Physical Collections

Moderator: Dan Erdman


  • Chris Lacinak, AVPreserve
  • Elena Rossi-Snook, Reserve Film and Video Collection, The New York Public Library
  • Jennifer Jenkins, University of Arizona
  • John Vallier & Andrew Weaver, University of Washington


As the physical technology of film and analog a/v materials becomes increasingly unfamiliar to new generations of users, archivists are responding with increasingly innovative methods of making sure that physical collections remain useful and accessible.  In this session, archivists working with physical film and video collections will report on their experiments with turning libraries into spaces for interacting with film, bringing archival materials into the classroom, using open-source applications and improved workflows for discovery of analog video, and encouraging the remix, reuse, and re-imagining of physical media.


S6. Tools and Technologies for Enhancing Access to Audiovisual Collections

Moderator: Jack Brighton


  • Lai Tee Phang, National Archives of Singapore
  • Anne Wootton, Pop Up Archive
  • Mark Williams, Dartmouth College, The Media Ecology Project
  • Allison Schein, Studs Terkel Archive

A/V collections are increasingly digital; in theory, that also means increasingly accessible  However, on the web, media has a distinct disadvantage — because it’s not text-based, it’s hard to search, hard to skim, and hard to share.  More than for any other kind of digital collection, effective use of technology is crucial in helping users to discover and engage with digital audiovisual collections. Digital tools for audiovisual materials can allow collections to develop a meaningful web presence, improve searchability, create new distribution channels, and develop access points for users.  This session will explore some of the technology currently being used and developed by audiovisual archives, libraries, and scholarly communities, such as speech-to-text software, data harmonization, scholarly research metadata, and online remix programs, and how these tools can be used to improve access to a/v.


S7: Apples and Oranges: Providing Meaningful Access to Mixed Media Collections

Moderator: Elizabeth Walters, Harvard University


  • Alan Gevinson, Library of Congress
  • Mary Miller, Peabody Awards Collection, University of Georgia
  • Stephanie Sapienza, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, University of Maryland

Media doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Much of the audiovisual material housed in archival collections is linked to a web of related textual and material documentation — transcripts, press scripts, correspondence, production notes, etc. — which provides important context and add value for researchers and the public. However, in many cases, the media and related paper/textual collections are accessioned and processed using very different and separate techniques, guidelines, and description schemas. In some cases, the materials are separated geographically as well as intellectually, making it even more difficult for users to understand and make use of the full potential of the material. This session will discuss the specific challenges and benefits of providing meaningful access to mixed-media collections, with a focus on methods for using text and documents to contextualize audiovisual materials.