University of Wisconsin-Madison

Globalizing and Enhancing the Media History Digital Library

This project will make significant contributions to the field of film history and, more broadly, the digital humanities. Currently, over 10,000 users each month visit the Media History Digital Library’s (MHDL) collections of open access books and magazines about film and broadcasting. This project will expand the number of users and deepen their level of engagement. By implementing a new database and interface, users will be able to contribute tags and metadata that generate new knowledge and improve the MHDL’s searchability. This ability for users to contribute information and collaborate with one another is especially significant for the study of film, a domain in which professional scholars and passionate movie fans possess complementary forms of expertise. As a result, this project will contribute to the broader field of the digital humanities by modeling how academic and fan communities can share knowledge in a way that improves a digital project’s usability and searchability. Additionally, this grant project will enhance the global scope of the MHDL.

Currently, the MHDL’s 2 million page collection consists almost entirely of US publications. This limits the collection’s research potential for the study of national cinemas and the transnational exchange of films. To address these gaps, we are creating the Global Cinema History Task Force, a group of nine experts who will investigate the locations and copyright statuses of key global film publications, then digitize texts that are identified as out-of-copyright. Along with expanding access to more international film publications, the Task Force will develop a set of recommendations for other digital projects that seek to study 20th century culture while complying with international copyright laws. Therefore, this project will make a significant contribution to the digital humanities through documenting effective, ethical, and legal means of digitizing publications in different national and cultural contexts.

Key Deliverables and Goals

  • Implement a new centralized database and data model to store all the metadata
  • Develop an improved user interface with a more integrated and cohesive online experience
  • Globalize the collection to enhance the study of national cinemas and the transnational exchange of films and filmmakers