HFA’s catalog is online!

Greetings from the HFA’s Conservation Center!


From the Boston Public Library’s collection.

I’m very pleased to announce that as of today, the majority of the Harvard Film Archive’s cataloging records, representing over 23,000 films and videotapes, are search-able through HOLLIS, the Harvard Library system’s online catalog.

For years, information about our material has been only accessible at the HFA offices.  For most of its life as an institution, the HFA functioned without a full-time cataloger.

Finally, we have put a foot tentatively into the 21st century.  Not only do we have a full-time cataloger on staff, we also have migrated our data out of our in-house database and into something you can search from the privacy of your phone.  Baby steps, of course.  Right now, most records you will see on HOLLIS are “stub” records, showing basic fields such as Title, Director, Country of Origin, Format, etc..  For more detailed information, you will still have to contact HFA staff.

Here is an example of a new “stub” record, from a new collection at the HFA:

Up to this point, our cataloger was creating each online record artisan-style, sometimes doing copy-cataloging, but often creating records for locally sourced, unique items from scratch.  Until this automated project was completed, 4,000 records were available on HOLLIS, or about 15% of our holdings.

Once we have the records uploaded to WorldCat (there are a few technical details delaying this), our collection will be Google-able.

This project was made possible through Harvard University’s Library Lab program.  Many, many thanks to everyone who has worked on this project.  The migration of the Filemaker data to MARC and into ALEPH was not as straightforward as we had hoped, and many gremlins had to be ferreted out.  Hopefully this project will pave the way for other repositories at Harvard to use a similar system of automated data export.

We are very pleased with the results, and are excited to discover what happens next.  We’re expecting research requests to increase, and for the HFA’s collection to occupy a more visible space in the Library system.  In the meantime, our cataloger continues to plug away, creating elegant, meaningful records out of these “stubs”.


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