The Metadata Spreadsheet

Before dealing with actual video files, it’s essential to set up a system to record metadata — the contextual information that surrounds the video files and describes what they are. Without this information, videos lose much of their meaning and make it difficult for future researchers or community members to understand the significance of the footage. While this information is not physically attached to the video files, we create an “archive identifier” that corresponds to the folder names that hold the video media files.  Here’s a sample form in Google Drive to fill out metadata fields for video clips.

We pre-populated the drop down menus to correspond to communities and languages. All information entered is captured in a separate Google spreadsheet and new keywords can be added through the form editor (or the “meta” tab at the bottom of an Excel document). Here are the fields we created:

  • Archive Id (this identifier should be the same as the folder naming scheme for each video project, eg “20150521_Guyanese_KweKwe_Brooklyn” — see p. 9)
  • Date
  • Cultural Protocols (refers to access: public or private)
  • Activity (fieldwork, public program, workshop)
  • Community (corresponds to particular communities Lynne works with)
  • Project/Initiative (if video is part of a larger program, grant, etc.)
  • Title
  • Media (this could be the media filename or URL)
  • Contributors (refers to artists who are involved in the program)
  • Creator (refers to the organization/folklorists responsible for creating the information)
  • Format
  • Category
  • Description
  • Cultural Narrative (the cultural and broader contextual description about this piece of content. You can add cultural narrative to your content as you see fit. This field is an open field to provide you with maximum flexibility to express your knowledge in the most appropriate form.)
  • Language
  • Art form (top-level terms from the Ethnographic Thesaurus)
  • Publisher
  • Rights
  • Standard and Creative Commons Licensing
  • Standard and Creative Commons Licensing URL
  • Subject (topic of the content, usually keywords or classification codes that describe the topic of the resource. Library of Congress subject headings are one standard and recognized option you may want to use.)
  • Keywords
  • Location Description
  • Neighborhood