Accessing the Inaccessible: Capturing and re-purposing metadata prior to digitization to ensure adequate description and access
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In October of 2017, UNT Special Collections embarked on a large-scale digitization project involving a portion of the highly requested A/V materials from the NBC-5/KXAS Television News collection, using a third-party vendor. Until 2017, portions of the collection were digitized through discrete patron requests, or smaller projects carried out during downtime. This new project involved digitizing the collection s entire UMatic tape holdings; roughly 2,000 tapes covering broadcast news stories aired between 1976 and 1986. The UMatic holdings were prioritized for digitization due to preservation concerns about their age, degradation, and the decreasing availability of UMatic tape players. Consisting of over 140 boxes, with an average of 14 tapes per box, each tape case contains one UMatic tape and one or more handwritten index cards with descriptions of the tape s content. We estimate this project will produce over 50,000 individual news clips for ingestion. How does an institution efficiently and adequately describe over 50,000 digital objects with enough access points to make them searchable to patrons, including film and television producers wishing to license footage on restrictive deadlines? The estimated time it would take to upload, describe, and publish these clips on the Portal to Texas History, is nearly 3 years. How can we ensure access and searchability in the meantime? The estimated time it would take to upload, describe, and publish these clips on the Portal to Texas History is nearly 3 years. This presentation provides a detailed look at how we used snapshots to help repurpose metadata, then harnessed linked data tools in Excel and WikiMedia to create access to tape content titles. We will talk about prioritizing content access during digitization and how those priorities evolved as we realized the full scope of the collection. We ll discuss how we created the initial database using linked data in Excel, transferring that data to our in-house wiki space using WikiMedia, as well as how the system is being used today. More importantly, we will discuss how capturing and making physical metadata accessible during digitization of the physical objects can increase efficiency in other digitization projects.