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Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Library offers Web access to world-renowned collection devoted to history of motion pictures

DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 1 November 2012—Since its establishment in 1928, the library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has grown into a world-renowned institution  dedicated to documenting the history and development of motion pictures as an art form and an industry. The library is open to the public and is an important resource for scholars, students, researchers and industry professionals. Today, researchers, students and film aficionados worldwide can begin to explore  these rich, unique collections online through the Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collections.

Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collections is an online database that provides public access to digitized materials from the Library’s collections. Currently, the database contains more than 3,000 items, including correspondence, photographs, early release fliers, full issues of rare periodicals, sheet music and movie star ephemera. The database also includes complete copies of more than 250 Academy publications, dating back to the founding of the organization in 1927, and provides access to significant items including selections from the Alfred Hitchcock papers and the Cecil B. DeMille photographs, as well as the annual Academy Awards programs.

Digitizing these materials is part of an ongoing effort to preserve and provide wider access to one of the world’s pre-eminent collections of motion picture history. The hope is that the database will both assist scholarly researchers and offer the general public the opportunity to experience the Academy's holdings even if they are not able to visit the library in person.

“We are a heavily used special research library, but we wanted to make our materials more widely available and accessible around the world,” said Barbara Hall, Research Archivist, Margaret Herrick Library. “Providing Web access to our collections is a great way to get these materials out to the public. We are very excited to showcase our collections.”

The Library has had a digital asset management program in place for some time to preserve selected items from the collections. Many images in the library had already been scanned for preservation, and library staff was able to download some of these items from the library’s existing system and import them to OCLC’s CONTENTdm Digital Collection Management Software. Additionally, library staff scanned some materials, such as correspondence and publications, specifically for ingesting into the new system. Using CONTENTdm, the library was able to showcase its digital collection on the Web quickly and easily.

“We looked at various solutions for nine months,” said Zoe Friedlander, Head of Library Systems, Margaret Herrick Library. “I asked the staff to show us examples of other libraries’ online digital collections—solutions that looked interesting. We saw collections created using CONTENTdm and thought it would be a good solution for us. We tried it for six months, acquired it and then spent a year working on the project before officially launching our digital collections in July.”

Ms. Friedlander said CONTENTdm offered the library the kind of flexibility it needs to expand its digital collections.

Since the collections were just officially launched in July 2012, it is too early to tell how much new traffic will be generated by the new digital resource. Still, the number of page views in the first few months has been impressive. Among the most popular collections so far: Academy Publications, which includes full-text issues of publications produced by the Academy since 1927; and William Selig Papers, from the silent film producer.

At least one review is already in. “You would expect the Margaret Herrick Library—one of the world’s leading film study centres—to put on a good show when it came to presenting its collections digitally, and how well they have done so,” according to THE BIOSCOPE, a blog about early and silent cinema. “The documents are presented superbly, with full descriptions, transcripts, assorted display options, download and print options, even the facility to view text and image alongside one another from transcribed documents. It’s a model presentation in every way.”

Other popular sites from the digital collections include:

Academy Awards Collection: This digital collection contains selected Academy Awards photographs, rule books, programs and ephemera from the library’s extensive holdings.

Motion Picture Periodicals: The digital collection of Motion Picture Periodicals contains complete issues of various publications from the library’s collections. The library’s periodical holdings include industry trade publications, fan magazines, technical and scholarly journals, and studio house organs.

Mary Pickford Papers: Selection of photographs from the Mary Pickford papers. Mary Pickford was a Canadian-born actress, producer, director, and film executive active in filmmaking from 1909 to 1936. From 1915 through the mid-1920s she was arguably the most popular and best-known woman in the world.

The Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collections currently contains only a fraction of the library’s holdings. “New materials continue to be added on an ongoing basis,” said Ms. Hall.

For more information about the Margaret Herrick Library and its collections, please visit the library Web pages.

About the Margaret Herrick Library

The Margaret Herrick Library is a world-renowned, non-circulating reference and research collection devoted to the history and development of the motion picture as an art form and as an industry. Established in 1928, a year after the Academy was founded, the library moved to its current Beverly Hills location in 1991. The Margaret Herrick Library is located in Beverly Hills at the Academy’s Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study.

About OCLC

Founded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world’s information and reducing library costs. More than 72,000 libraries in 170 countries have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend, preserve and manage library materials. Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it. OCLC and its member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the world’s largest online database for discovery of library resources. Search WorldCat on the Web at www.worldcat.org. For more information, visit www.oclc.org.

OCLC, WorldCat and WorldCat.org are trademarks and/or service marks of OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Third-party product, service and business names are trademarks and/or service marks of their respective owners.

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    Bob Murphy

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