You can help people find videos in your collection by providing a document or platform that serves as a finding aid. A finding aid is any tool that helps your users navigate a collection and understand what is in it.
What About My Inventory or Catalog?
An inventory or catalog is an internal tool to manage your collection, whereas a finding aid is public-facing and meant for your users. You can re-purpose an internal inventory or catalog as a finding aid; just be sure to remove or hide data that is private or not relevant to your users, put it in a sharable format, and perhaps add some user access points (see “Making Videos Findable” below for more on this).
You do not need to have an internal inventory or catalog in order to make a finding aid. Alternately, if you do not have external users, you do not need to make a finding aid separate from your internal inventory or catalog.
Types of Finding Aids
A single finding aid can incorporate more than one of these forms below:
A written description that provides a broad overview of a collection. This can be useful if you do not have time to describe each video in your collection individually. You can also make guides for smaller groupings within your collection. Guides can be used in conjunction with lists.
A list of the individual items in a collection informs people that the item exists, and provides minimal information (e.g. a title). You can use a list in conjunction with a guide.
Try This: BASIC
Crowdvoice is an example of a tool that allows you to create a guide and list (with links) for web resources on human rights issues.
An ordered list of subject headings that point to where resources on that subject can be found. You are probably most familiar with indexes in the back of books, which list topics in alphabetical order and point to the page number where information on that topic is written. You can make an index by using keywords in a database or catalog.
A set of systematically arranged records containing multiple ways to browse, search, or sort content. Each record in a catalog describes an item, like a video, according to a standard structure (see the “Catalog” section for more on how to make a catalog). An online public library catalog is a familiar example of a public catalog.
Tools to Create Finding Aids
There are many offline and online tools that you can use to create a finding aid or discovery tool:
- A spreadsheet application like Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheet can provide a way to present structured information to you users. Spreadsheets are best for simple finding aids like lists.
- A database application like Microsoft Access or FileMaker Pro offers more functionality than a spreadsheet, such as repeatable fields. Database applications can be useful for making indexes and catalogs.
- Some video sharing websites like YouTube have features like channels and playlists that allow you to create guides and indexes to point to videos hosted on the site. The YouTube Human Rights Channel is a good example of a finding aid that helps journalists find human rights videos.
- A web curation platform like Crowdvoice or Storify can be useful for making guides and lists about content (including videos) that are already up on the web.
- A web content management system (CMS) like Drupal or WordPress can be customized to make websites that function as indexes or catalogs. Omeka is a CMS that is especially designed for digital cultural heritage collections.
Making Videos Findable
No matter what form your finding aid takes, or what technology you use, make your videos findable by creating access points in the finding aid that match the way your users want to browse or search for content.
An access point is basically an entryway to the content in your finding aid. For example, if you have a list, the access points might be subheadings in the list that divide records up by topic. On the Syrian Revolution Martyr Database, for example, the list of videos is divided with headings for “Children Martyrs,” “Funerals,” “Poetry,” and so on. This provides its users with a way to find videos.
Identify the access points that would maximize your users’ ability to find and access what they want in your collection. For example, if your users are prosecutors in the International Criminal Court, they may want to find content according to the elements of a crime or by the name of a perpetrator. Or if your users are human rights organizations, they might be interested in finding content by geographic region or human rights issue.
Make Videos Findable on Youtube
While YouTube is not suitable for storing your collection, it is an excellent platform for sharing and providing access to your videos.
You can integrate videos uploaded to YouTube (or other video sharing websites) into finding aids as links or video embeds. As mentioned above, you can also create a finding aid within YouTube using its channel and playlist features.
If you are simply uploading your videos to YouTube with no finding aid, you can rely on YouTube’s search and filters to help people find your videos. As you may have experienced, however, browsing and finding specific videos within the large volume of videos on YouTube and with its limited access points can be difficult. To maximize the findability of your videos on YouTube without a finding aid:
- For raw footage, upload the original file if possible (YouTube will not keep your original file, but will keep some of the original metadata from the file).
- Make your title informative, and include the date recorded and location of your video.
- Make your description informative, answering questions of who, what, when, where, and why.
- Tag your video using access points relevant to your users (see above).
- Make your titles, descriptions, and tags multi-lingual if your users understand different languages.
Appropriately titling and describing your videos also lets YouTube editors know that your video contains important news and information, not just graphic or violent content. If your video is flagged, YouTube editors will rely on your title and description to determine whether your video is newsworthy or should be taken down.
Video as Evidence TIP
Many journalists and legal observers look for videos on YouTube. Including the date recorded, location, and the name of the source (if safe) and other informative description is important to enable them to authenticate and verify your video.