PBCore Case Studies

While not a comprehensive list of all PBCore users, this page includes real-world examples of how various institutions find value in implementing PBCore – as the underlying structure for a database, an import/export format, a conceptual model, and more. If you’re interested in contributing a case study to highlight how your institution implements PBCore, contact us at PBCoreInfo@wgbh.org.


Lousiana Public Broadcasting logo

Share and Share Alike: How Louisiana Public Broadcasting Uses PBCore

The Initial Issues

Like many media organizations, Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) had a lot of assets but didn’t have a system for organizing them. That system also had to have a way for LPB to share those assets with other media organizations, along with the ability to share media with the public.

Key Benefits of PBCore

Two of PBCore's strengths are its flexibility and the ease with which PBCore metadata can be shared between parties—qualities that are particularly important for media organizations that exchange data. Additionally, the American Archive for Public Broadcasting (AAPB) was a key party that LPB wanted to share data with, and the AAPB had already been using PBCore.

The Outcome

In 2010, LPB developed its own PBCore-based MySQL database thanks to a planning grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This laid the foundation for the Louisiana Digital Media Archive, LPB's joint project with the Louisiana State Archives. Using PBCore gave LPB and the Louisiana State Archives the ability to catalog all of their video assets in a joint database.

On the front-end, the public is now able to find and access video content in multiple places. For example, LPB shares content with AAPB, and users can discover content through AAPB, which links directly to the Louisiana Digital Media Archive where users can watch the assets. The content can appear in multiple places, and users can still find it with ease—a feature that perfectly addressed the organization’s needs.

The way that LPB uses PBCore represents precisely how public media should be shared: simply, broadly, and consistently.

George Blood, LP logo

The Freedom to Be Flexible: How George Blood, LP Uses PBCore

The Initial Issues

George Blood LP is a digitization vendor that specializes in archival audio, film and video preservation. Naturally, this means that there are many files and metadata moving through the company’s system. Employees at George Blood needed an additional standard to design and create metadata records that would meet each client’s specific needs, such as helping the documentation fit with an existing database, or including detailed source and copyright information.

Key Benefits of PBCore

PBCore's flexibility means that it can address the archiving standards of companies across many industries. Since George Blood serves various organizations with different library conventions, the company uses a few different standards for the records it produces for clients. The company needed one that played well with different library conventions, and PBCore was one of the standards that was particularly good at addressing that need.

The Outcome

Today, George Blood employees create PBCore documents as part of their file transfer and finishing process. Using PBCore impressed upon the company how flexible the schema is and how that's beneficial to different organizations; two libraries may use the exact same field in entirely different ways, and PBCore can allow for that.

This is particularly important because some organizations adhere to library conventions that were established before PBCore even existed. In other cases, an organization might be particularly conscious of attributing a source or adding copyright information, and PBCore documents are befitting places to put that information.

AVP logo

Check, Please: How AVP Uses PBCore

The Initial Issues

VP is an information management consulting and software development firm, which has participated in development of PBCore since its earliest days. As there is an ongoing need for standardized fields, vocabulary, and a data model specific to audiovisual materials, AVP has found PBCore to be applicable to numerous scenarios, from custom software development, to integration and data exchange between systems.

One example of how AVP works with clients is helping select, develop, and /or configure systems to manage information about media assets, such as digital asset management systems or custom databases. These systems typically allow organizations to define their own custom metadata models, but most organizations managing audiovisual materials need to capture a certain core set of information that they can build off of to fulfill their local requirements.

Key Benefits of PBCore

PBCore’s flexibility makes it compatible with different descriptive systems, and it is optimized for organizing audiovisual assets. This particular strength can address the needs of organizations that are working to determine what is important when creating their metadata models.

The Outcome

AVP uses PBCore as a consistent standard when identifying the core fields a client might need in a data model. During the consultation process, AVP references PBCore alongside the client’s local needs in order to recommend fields and vocabularies the organization should consider including in their cataloging templates.

Additionally, users often want their chosen application to extract technical metadata from their files upon ingest. AVP will then use PBCore’s technical (instantiation and essence track) elements as a reference to check whether the system will extract those required attributes; this also ensures that any tool that’s being used has the necessary functionalities. By using PBCore as a consistent reference, AVP gives its clients products and suggestions that will help them truly capitalize on their asset management systems.

Wisconsin Public Television logo

Mapping for the Future: How Wisconsin Public Television Uses PBCore

The Initial Issues

Until 2004, Wisconsin Public Television had been using Microsoft Access to track its assets. However, the software has its limits, and WPT needed a future-proof system for handling its metadata.

Key Benefits of PBCore

PBCore’s ability to track technical “instantiation” metadata helps organizations keep track of the types and characteristics of digital files they are managing over time. This is important for media organizations that need to store, manage, preserve and provide access to large amounts of digital data.

The Outcome

WPT started using PBCore in 2004 for its metadata.

The organization also implemented the Archival Management System (AMS), a piece of technology that was developed by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and consulting firm AVP for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. The AMS is built on PBCore, which is why WPT chose to use PBCore to track preservation digitization (the process of digitizing assets for archival purposes and for long-term access and use).

PBCore allows WPT to see which tape was digitized for preservation, when, to what formats, and more. Since an asset can be exported to more formats and more places than ever, PBCore’s ability to allow records of digitized media to be connected to records of the original media has never been more valuable.

Fourteen years ago, WPT was searching for a system that would stand the test of time. It looks like the organization has found it.

American Archive of Public Broadcasting logo

Meeting Halfway: How the American Archive for Public Broadcasting Uses PBCore

The Initial Issues

The American Archive for Public Broadcasting (AAPB) had unique requirements for a database to store its assets. The database needed a low barrier of entry, particularly since the AAPB would be working with institutions that had varying amounts of information on their assets. Additionally, the database would need to have detailed fields that researchers and contributing organizations use to access asset information.

Key Benefits of PBCore

PBCore’s flexibility gives organizations the opportunity to fill out as much or as little information as they have for any given asset. Stations and producers won’t always have all of the details about their assets, but PBCore can receive a wide range of available asset information.

The Outcome

The AAPB used PBCore as a basis for the data tables underlying its existing database, the Archival Management System (AMS) 1. Thanks to PBCore, the AAPB can ask station partners to provide anywhere from just a few key fields of metadata to detailed descriptive and technical information—nearly anything will easily map into the system. With PBCore, the AAPB can also track digitized instantiations in the AMS and link any new digital files created to the descriptive asset records.

Now that the AAPB is developing the AMS 2, the organization is still using the PBCore data model, albeit using RDF-structured metadata rather than a mysql database. To represent PBCore as RDF, the AAPB is using EBUCore, Dublin Core RDF, and other properties. (Information about the AAPB’s PBCore-based RDF data model can be found on the Mappings page.) Partners find that submitting PBCore XML and PBCore-compliant spreadsheets is still an easy and flexible away to contribute data to the AAPB, which is why spreadsheets and XML will remain the primary import and export formats with this new system. PBCore consistently meets the AAPB’s partners where they are, and that collaboration strengthens and expands our public media ecosystem.

Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities logo

Putting Aside Differences: How the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities Uses PBCore

The Initial Issues

The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) has been working with other organizations on a project called Unlocking the Airwaves. The goal of the project is to create an online resource for the exploration of the radio and paper collections owned by the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB). To do this properly, MITH needed a way of supporting linked data methods so that the organization could combine multiple different descriptive systems.

Key Benefits of PBCore

PBCore makes it easy to link data methods and tools so that researchers have a useful and cohesive resource. Moreover, although it’s optimized for audiovisual assets, PBCore also makes it possible to catalog papers as well, and being able to do that was important for addressing NAEB’s needs. .

The Outcome

MITH ended up using PBCore to start creating a data model with linked data approaches and formats. This arrangement allowed the online portal to use this information in a way that still retained the semantics and provenance of the original data. This ability to create a usable profile from multiple different descriptive systems—and to do so with a relatively low entry barrier—is one of PBCore’s strengths, and it ensures that MITH will have a flexible and robust system that will resist obsolescence.

Northeast Historic Film logo

Northeast Historic Film's Hidden Collections Catalog

How We Use PBCore

Northeast Historic Film was awarded a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources Hidden Collections program in 2010 to create descriptive records for 50 film collections (8mm, 16mm, 35mm) identified as significant moving image archival documents relating to work and labor in the first half of the 20th century.

The reels hold hidden research materials from 50 previously uncataloged donations among the 800 collections gathered at the northern New England archives in Bucksport, Maine. Examples of the materials include a 1921 film depicting small boats created by marine architect Norman Skene (author of Elements of Yacht Design); workers in the A.S. Hinds cosmetics factory in Portland, Maine, by Charles B. Hinds; and film from the American Writing Paper Company, Holyoke, Mass., intertitled in Spanish and English by Visugraphic Pictures.

To accomplish the Hidden Collections Project, Northeast Historic Film needed a new asset management system to hold both collection-level and item-level information. CollectiveAccess was chosen as a new central metadata repository. This repository would have to accommodate the eventual migration of about 25,000 existing records stored in a legacy ProCite database, and also work for original archival description using DACS for finding aids (collection level description) and PBCore for the approximately 1000 reels in the 50 collections of work life. The project staff found that CollectiveAccess was a powerful system for describing collections, but was not yet configured as an item-level PBCore cataloging tool. Early in the year, staff catalogers and interns were easily creating new finding aids and publishing them to the Web, while PBCore cataloging took place in an interim tool built on the ExpressionEngine CMS.

Thus there were two migration challenges: all the newly written metadata from ExpressionEngine, to be followed by the mass of heritage metadata. Because PBCore provides a well-formed data structure recognizable by CollectiveAccess, once the data export to PBCore XML records was accomplished, the importing process was simple.

Why We Use PBCore

Karan Sheldon, co-founder of Northeast Historic Film, explains the reasons for using PBCore in this project: “NHF has managed our collections over more than 20 years largely through item-level description, which allowed us to find specific people, places, things, and activities, in tens of thousands of reels. Item-level description is a given for our survival. We need to be able to migrate the detailed descriptions of the reels into a data structure that will efficiently track new forms of the work (new preservation copies, digital surrogates, and unknown future forms), without having to redo all the work we’ve done so far.”

Smithsonian Channel logo

PBCore at Smithsonian Channel

The Initial Issues

Smithsonian Channel formed in 2005 as a joint venture between Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institution. In 2007 they began broadcasting of their original content inspired by the museums and research facilities. The Library and Archives includes a mix of tape-based and file-based HD formats of raw footage for original programs as well as production elements and the finished products themselves. Karma joined in 2011 with the task of figuring out what the channel had and how to preserve it and make it accessible for re-use.

Benefits of PBCore

Karma first focused on establishing a basic database that would allow production staff to locate re-usable footage. Their in-house, unique database, SCOUT, is built on CollectiveAccess and is fairly simple. Works and instantiations exist in one record and technical and descriptive metadata are tied together with PBCore acting as the consultant for controlled vocabulary and many elements. The team picks and chooses specific PBCore elements and vocabulary and modifies others to suit their collection. Elements that help to describe pieces of the broadcast production process are especially helpful.

The Outcome

SCOUT now contains Work records for all of Smithsonian Channel's broadcast programs, as well as raw footage and other re-usable assets. The Work records include summary program descriptions, keywords (drawn from an in-house controlled vocabulary), delivery date (when the program was considered final in the system), premiere date, credits, rights notes, and some other internal categories. PBCore allows Smithsonian Channel to clearly specify a variety of 'dates' associated with each program, as well as detailed and specific credits. SCOUT also includes records for hundreds of re-usable public domain assets. Smithsonian Channel does a lot of archive-based programming, so having good decriptions of relevan assets to re-use saves production teams time and money. These Work records include summary description, timecode-based detailed description (when warranted), keywords, date shot, source, source URL, and rights notes.

PBCore-based technical fields for records in SCOUT include video format (whether physical or digital), frame size (aka resolution), frame rate, color, and any technical notes. Adding field footage and program masters in UHD (Ultra HD) has meant adding a slew of new values to the controlled vocabulary for frame size, including 8k!

South Side Home Movie Project logo

Using PBCore in Collective Access at the South Side Home Movie Project

How We Use PBCore

The South Side Home Movie Project uses a custom installation profile based off of one the Academy Film Archive made available for public use. Included in this profile was the PBCORE metadata schema. Project Manager Candace Ming says, "Initially I felt that PBCORE, a schema made specifically for broadcast content, would be too robust for effectively cataloging home movies. However, after viewing the profile and fields further I realized that it’s specificity and granularity were just what was needed to capture all of the disparate information essential to home movies."

PBCore for Descriptive Cataloging

Candace reports: "Currently I use both the Physical and Digital format fields, the Duration Field, the colors field and the audio standards field to describe the physical properties of our holdings. Additionally, I found that the Description field with its various abilities to not only describe the basic content of a home movie, but also transcripts and anecdotal comments was incredibly helpful. Obviously, we don’t use all of the fields in the PBCORE profile since many don’t apply, but for those we do use I’ve found that the granularity is particularly helpful and PBCORE is incredibly easy to implement.

California Revealed logo

PBCore at California Revealed

How We Use PBCore

California Revealed (formerly California Audiovisual Preservation Project) has been using PBCore to organize descriptive, rights, and technical metadata about the audiovisual objects that they preserve since the project's beginning in 2010. California Revealed is looking forward to using PBCore 2.1 in their latest round of digitization and will soon automate the ingest of metadata into our repository using PBCore XML files created by their digitization vendors.

Benefits of PBCore

As a project which collaborates with hundreds of cultural heritage institutions to preserve and facilitate access to their audiovisual media, the benefits of a standardized metadata schema specialized for audiovisual recordings has been enormously helpful.