Enriching performing arts collections with metadata

Organisations in the funded arts sector have been able to become meemoo content partners since 2016. Among other things, this gives them improved access to our digitisation and archiving activities. It has also paved the way for lots of audiovisual content from the sector to find its way into our archive system, and the Beeldstorm project has increased this volume further.

Challenge

There was just one problem: apart from the show title, these digital video files had no other metadata available. This meant that information such as the names of the cast and contributors was missing, and adding it manually would have been very time-consuming for our content partners.

Thankfully, we have the FLanders Institute (Kunstenpunt) database to help. As well as being a meemoo content partner, Flanders Arts Institute is also the support organisation and expertise centre for the arts from Flanders and Brussels. It has been collecting data about stage productions in Flanders, and making it available via the Flanders Arts Institute database, for years.

Our role

Creating a link between their database and our archive system was therefore a logical step to save our content partners from needing to enter the metadata manually. Enriching the metadata also makes the content more searchable via meemoo platforms such as Catalogus Pro or The Archive.

Approach

The link between the two systems was rolled out in 2018, making it possible to transfer certain metadata from the Flanders Arts Institute database to the meemoo archive system in a one-time operation. This transfer takes place per performing arts organisation at the request of the organisation itself. A link needs to be created from the metadata model in the meemoo archive system to the Flanders Arts Institute database for the metadata to be transferred.

Flanders Arts Institute can activate the metadata connection on the basis of this link, and the metadata is transferred in the Creator and Contributor fields (such as actors, dancers, choreographers, directors). The metadata is then placed in the correct fields in the meemoo metadata model and also becomes available and searchable on the meemoo platforms after 24 hours.

It therefore concerns a one-time transfer with no synchronisation between the two systems. This means that the metadata is not updated automatically in the meemoo archive system if it is modified in the Flanders Arts Institute database, which is not a sustainable way of working in the long term. An automatic connection would be more expedient, but is not currently possible. Flanders Arts Institute and meemoo are holding ongoing discussions about a long-term solution.

In order to maintain a good overview, only items that have entered the meemoo archive system as part of the Beeldstorm project are currently being linked. When a more stable solution becomes available, we will immediately be able to find which items this link needs to be updated for.

Was your organisation involved in the Beeldstorm project and would you like to enrich your metadata? We’re setting up a support article with a step-by-step plan and screencasts.

Partners

Kunstenpunt (Flanders Arts Institute)

CEMPER - Centre for Music and Performing Arts Heritage