Delivering Hybrid Oral Histories Using Limited Time and Resources, Cyndi Shein


Published on

Delivering Hybrid Oral Histories Using Limited Time and Resources. Society of American Archivists 2013. Cyndi Shein shares a strategy that can be used to streamline the processing of hybrid archival collections (born-digital and analog) of oral history interviews (audiovisual recordings and transcripts). The strategy employs the resource management approach commonly referred to as "MPLP" and the presentation focuses on inexpensive or free tools used to manage digital files--tools that are user-friendly and easy to implement.

1 Comment
1 Like
No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Hello, I’m Cyndi Shein from the Getty Institutional Records and Archives. TodayI’m going to share one strategy you can use to deliver hybrid oral histories even if you’ve got limited time and resources. IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons some rights reserved: William Warby
  • I’m going to talk about a collection generated by the Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. project. This collaborative project culminated last year in a series of events and exhibitions that documented the postwar art scene in Los Angeles. Oral history interviews with artists, filmmakers, curators, and collectors were central to the project.
  • As sponsor of the project, the Getty Foundation collected over 200 interviews from 19 institutions.Our objective in the Archives was to make the interviews available quickly while the project was still in the spotlight. Most of the collection is born-digital. We received very little in print.
  • We intellectually integrated the content—that is although the digital and analog components are housed and accessed separately, they are described together. Print-only transcripts are available on-site and will be digitized upon request.
  • Our online deliverable is a digital collection, with MARC and EAD records pointing to it from WorldCat, ArchiveGrid,the Online Archive of California, and our local website, The digital collection can be accessed at 
  • We created a separate accession for each set of interviews and treated each accession as a series.
  • In the finding aid we described the content at the series level.
  • Clicking on a series title opens the series component of the finding aid.
  • Following the series description is a link to the digital object that corresponds to that series. The digital object link is followed by a complete list of interviewees.
  • The digital object link is followed by a complete list of interviewees, to ensure that each person’s name is discoverable.
  • We created a collection-level MARC record that points to the digital collection.
  • We also created an analytic MARC record for each series that points to its corresponding digital object.
  • There are a lot of steps between accession and access.This is aVERY simplified checklist. These actions don’t necessarily happen in a linear fashion—but they do happen. Some of these actions overlap or occur simultaneously:Transfer the original content from discs and hard drives onto a secure server; Verify the integrity of the transfers; Transform and rename copies for access; Ingest access copies into a digital repository with a public interface; and Create descriptive metadata and access points to facilitate discoverability.
  • The biggest challenge for us was how to find time to complete all the tasks on our checklist.We saved time by . . . IMAGE CREDIT: by judepics Creative Commons
  • Managing digital files at the accession level rather than the item level and implementing tools to automate or semi-automate tasks.IMAGE CREDIT: by judepics Creative Commons
  • Now I’d like to highlight a few tools that helped us perform actions on batches of records. In order to get files into our repository, we had to name them a certain way. Weused Better File Rename (which costs about $20) to modify file names by the batch—such as adding accession numbers and replacing or deleting unwelcome symbols.
  • After renaming files we transformed them for access. The conversion of VIDEO_TS files (playable DVDs) turned out to be the most difficult aspect of conversion and gave me a HUGE headache.
  • Until I found HandBrake, a free, user-friendly software that can transcode complex videos with a variety of outcomes, including our target outcome, MP4. HandBrakewebsite:
  • With HandBrake you can create templates and set output rules like naming conventions, file type, file size, and more.BEST OF ALL you can drop a bunch of files in a queue, and Handbrake will complete the job after you go home for the day! (That’s my favorite part!)
  • The next tool we found helpful was Mp3tag. It’s also free and user-friendly. We used it to embed basic descriptive metadata into both audio and video (MP3 and MP4 files). We entered the accession number, creator, and collection name to each accession as batch. In this example it’s applying that data to 60 files at once. We then entered each interview name and date one-by-one in the title field.Mp3tag website:
  • In MP3Tag you can open the contents of an entire folder in one window to do metadata quality control and execute global changes.
  • Once we transformed the files and embedded the metadata, we ingested the files into our digital repository. We packaged the digital interview recordings and transcripts together at the series level.This is a screenshot of the digital collection.
  • Each of the icons represents a series.Clicking on a series icon takes you to the description for that series.
  • We described each series-level digital object using Dublin Core wrapped in METS. The record includes much of the same information that is found in the parallel MARC record.
  • Just as in the finding aid and the series level MARC records, the DC/METS record includes all the interviewee names to facilitate discoverabilility at the interview level. The record also includes other appropriate subject headings and details.
  • At the bottom there’s a link to the finding aid and breadcrumbs leading back to the parent collection to provide the context of the material.
  • When you click on the digital object in the previous screeen shot, the Object Viewer opens. Each interviewee in the series is listed with transcripts and AV recordings nested beneath his/her name. From here you can open whichever item you’d like.
  • So, to sum things up . . . If you have limited time and resources, you can save timeby describing and delivering content in aggregate (rather than at the item-level). You can save time and money by automating actions using free or inexpensive tools.Is the outcome ideal? No. Does it sufficiently meet user needs? Time will tell. IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons some rights reserved: William Warby
  • Feel free to contact me for more in-depth information about our decisions and workflows.Thank you very much.
  • Delivering Hybrid Oral Histories Using Limited Time and Resources, Cyndi Shein

    1. 1. Cyndi Shein Lightning Session 608 Society of American Archivists 2013 Image by William Warby
    2. 2. Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 Largely sponsored by the Getty Over 60 cultural institutions across Southern California Interviews with key artists, filmmakers, curators, and collectors
    3. 3. Hybrid: print and born-digital content Intellectually integrated (regardless of format) Described together at series-level in MARC and EAD records
    4. 4. EAD Finding Aid
    5. 5. Finding aid series description
    6. 6. Collection-level MARC record
    7. 7. Series-level MARC record
    8. 8. Checklist Transfer to server Verify integrity of transfers Transform digital copies for access Ingest access copies into digital repository Create descriptive metadata and access points
    9. 9. Automate tasks Manage files at accession level Time?
    10. 10. Automate tasks Manage files at accession level Manage and describe files at accession level Automate tasks
    11. 11. Modify file names one by one to conform to local protocols
    12. 12. As received Access copy .doc .docx .xls .xlsx .pdf .cda .wav .mp3 .mov VIDEO_TS (.vob, .ifo, .bup) .mp4 .png .tif .jpg n/a
    13. 13. Title Accession . . .Creator Collection
    14. 14. Digital object (dc/mets)
    15. 15. Digital object viewer
    16. 16. Limited time and resources? Describe & deliver content in aggregate Automate actions using free tools Ideal? No Sufficient? Time will tell…
    17. 17. Cyndi Shein Assistant Archivist Getty Institutional Records and Archives