mv:dk – English version

Digitally connecting Media Libraries of the Performing Arts

Media libraries at institutes of theater and dance studies

Institutions of theater studies at universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland often possess extensive audiovisual collections that are relevant for research. However, the richness and uniqueness of their contents are not widely visible to the public and their preservation often presents a great challenge for the institutions. Since early 2018, researchers in theater studies, librarians and archivists from German-speaking universities and non-university research institutions have been meeting in the working group ARCHIVE within the Society for Theater Studies to discuss the practical and theoretical implications of audiovisual media for theater research and education, as well as to exchange information about their AV collections. Based on this working group, it was decided to conduct a first survey with the goal of providing information about the holdings in the media libraries and collections, and thus to create comparability between the holdings of the various institutions.

The research project “Digitally connecting Media Libraries of the Performing Arts”

The survey of the media libraries of the performing arts provides a first overview of the type, scope, level of cataloguing, and degree of digitization of their holdings. The rich, extensive, and often unique collections identified by participating institutions are often well catalogued. However, the isolation of these media libraries – often even the (meta-)data for individual objects is only limitedly available on-site and only accessible to local groups (students and teachers) – makes it difficult for external researchers and students to discover potentially researchable holdings and their locations. The value of these collections is often difficult to determine and communicate within the institutions due to this limited usability and comparability. The goal of the project “Digitally connecting Media Libraries of the Performing Arts” , funded by the German Research Foundation since 2021, is to create a central access point for researchers and students to search for information on audiovisual media and the performances, shows, and events of the performing arts represented therein. The basis for this is the development of workflows and the establishment of an infrastructure for media library metadata to search and research audiovisual holdings in theater and dance institutes, such as universities, art schools, or independent media libraries, as well as the development of consulting services for the research community of theater and dance studies on sustainable management of audiovisual media. The work program for implementing the project is divided into four stages. Cross-cutting tasks such as public relations, documentation, and evaluation of project processes, as well as exchange formats with the professional community, will be implemented in parallel with the project.

  • Development of prototype workflows for the exchange of media library metadata
  • Evaluation of the developed workflows
  • Implementation of the results 
  • Testing interactive tools for a virtual research environment 
  • Cross-cutting tasks: public relations, documentation, evaluation, and exchange formats with the professional community

In the context of the two-year project, a standardized and schematized workflow will be developed to model and structure the aggregated media library metadata and transfer it to the new to be developed mvdk portal. Subsequently, the data will be integrated into the comprehensive search of the portal, developed by the Specialised Information Services for the Performing Arts (SIS).

As part of the two-year project, a standardised and schematised work process will be developed .

The working structure of the research project

The applicant for the project is the Specialised Information Services Performing Arts, as well as the International Theater Institute Germany with its media library for dance and theater. The project “Digitally connecting Media Libraries of the Performing Arts” will be carried out in close cooperation with the Institute for Theater, Film, and Media Studies (tfm) at the University of Vienna. Further cooperation partners are the Institute for Theater Studies at the Freie Universität of Berlin, the Theater Studies department at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich (twm), the Institute for Applied Theater Studies (ATW) at the Justus Liebig University Giessen, and the Research Institute for Music Theater (fimt) at the University of Bayreuth. The project’s workflow will be accompanied by a steering group to ensure continuous quality assurance and give weight to the demands and wishes of the professional community, as well as to ensure the necessary impetus for the active participation of colleagues. In addition to the professional representatives, individuals with technical expertise were invited to participate in the steering group to make an important contribution to the success of the project.

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Annika Müller (2023, 27. April). mv:dk – English version. mv:dk. Abgerufen am 23. Juni 2024, von

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