Digitization and Access to Audiovisual Archives: Lessons from a Case Study

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Digitization is an important step forward in making audiovisual assets accessible to the public—but it’s only the first step. In this webinar, librarians at the University of Arizona Poetry Center (UAPC) discuss lessons learned from a decade of work on Voca, a digitized archive of poetry recordings. In this session, we’ll outline the financial and technical resources needed to digitize our recordings and launch/maintain the online version of the archive; discuss our approach to descriptive metadata and copyright questions; highlight recent efforts to make our digitized recordings more accessible, including a popular new podcast and the transcription and captioning of the entire archive; and share outreach initiatives that have helped our users connect with archival recordings online. We hope our experience with Voca can help other cultural heritage institutions plan similar projects and open their audiovisual archives to new audiences online.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this class, students will be able to:

Explain the importance of lifecycle planning for digitized audiovisual assets
List ideas for funding sources for digitization, transcription, and web development
Describe the significance of metadata and transcription for usability and accessibility of digitized audiovisual assets


Sarah Kortemeier is UAPC’s Library Director and has worked on various incarnations of Voca since she joined UAPC as a library assistant in 2010. She has served as key staff on numerous preservation and digitization projects in the UAPC Library, and as project director on initiatives funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation. A subject specialist in contemporary poetry, her scholarly work has appeared in Progressive Librarian and in the ACRL anthology Motivating Students on a Time Budget: Pedagogical Frames and Lesson Plans for In-Person and Online Information Literacy Instruction, ed. Sarah Steiner and Miriam Rigby. Her creative work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, and The Feminist Wire, among others; her debut poetry collection, Ganbatte, won the Felix Pollak Prize from the University of Wisconsin Press.

Julie Swarstad Johnson is the UAPC’s Archivist and Outreach Librarian, the first professional archivist in the Poetry Center’s 60-year history; she brings an archivist’s training to her work on Voca and other archival collections held by UAPC. She produces the podcast Poetry Centered, which introduces listeners to recordings from Voca curated and introduced by a contemporary poet. Additionally, she coordinates physical and digital exhibitions, and manages the daily operations of the UAPC Library. Her scholarly writing has appeared in the Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies. She is the author of the poetry collection Pennsylvania Furnace and co-editor of the anthology Beyond Earth’s Edge: The Poetry of Spaceflight.

Public library; Academic library: 4 year and graduate; Museum; Archives; Historical Society / Site; Special collections
All live online classes are in Eastern time.