Database Modification

george_kara george_kara

After the arrival of Mona, Chris and Kara, the launch of MAARA was about to start on Monday. An in depth lecture, which lasted for about an hour by Mona paved us the way for a step by step plan. As Mona stressed on ACCESSIBILITY, it prompted me to think of how our accessible is our database system for the archive? Yes, it is accessible but researchers don’t really find it comfortable going through the layouts of the various data fields because of its few errors and unattractiveness it looks. We receive complaints and question because people think there are problems with it. I explained to Kara about how it should be to the user – friendly and easily accessible. We also later found out that there would need to be new fields added for the digitization technicians so that they could track their work.

This called for modification of our FileMaker Pro database which is using a template by Independent Media Arts Preservation (IMAP) and updated by Kelly Haydon, a former NYU MIAP student, during her summer internship at IAS in 2012. Even though I was the one who called for modification of the database which experts in the field had already designed, I was quite scared I might destroy it because am not of the same level of experience as Kelly and the people who designed the template itself.


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IAS digital files to become part of UGSpace

The IAS Archive arranged a series of meetings with Nana Barfi Adomako, Head of  Academic Computing Unit of the University of Ghana Computing Systems (UGCS) to explore the possibility of leveraging UGCS ‘s infrastructure to support storage, back up, and access to the IAS collection. Nana Barfi provides support for digital projects at the Balme Library and other libraries at the university.

The meetings were fruitful on two fronts. One, we were made aware of UGSpace which is the institutional repository of the University of Ghana, an open access electronic archive for the collection, preservation and distribution of digital materials. The UGSpace was established to facilitate the deposit of digital content of a scholarly or heritage nature to ultimately share, preserve and promote the intellectual output of the University in a managed environment. This actually answered one of our questions on how the digitized materials coud be accessed widely.

Nana Barfi reported that the university is well underway in developing digital projects, and recently held a three-day workshop to inform the broad university community about progress on UGSpace. The tapes digitized through MAARA will be the first audiovisual materials to become part of UGSpace.

The policies and procedures for adding IAS materials to UGSpace will be worked out over the coming months. In the meantime, Academic Computing has generously provided the IAS Archive with temporary dedicated storage/backup of 200GB  on the Balme Library and Academic Computing Storage. This will help ensure that the digital collections are stored, replicated and backed up.  The solution for permanent storage/backup is also being handled by UGCS infracstructure.

The other good news which answered our second question on access was the mapping of our IMAP database unto the University of Ghana Library Catalogue.  MAARA calls for information about the digitized IAS materials to be available in the Balme Library catalog (UGCat); in other words, in a recognized research network. Initially, the IAS Archive will create collection level MARC records, which will refer researchers to contact the IAS Archivist, who can then provide reference services and support through access to the IAS Archive database. Even this small step will go a long way toward reaching broader audiences until the UGSpace collection can be established.

From left: Kara Van Malssen, Judith Opoku Boateng, Nana Barfi Adomako, Mona Jimenez, Chris Lacinak



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Professor Nketia: “The memories I lived are in these boxes”


On Wednesday July 30 we were honored to have a visit from Professor J. H. Kwabena Nketia, ethnomusicologist.  He was so amazed at the level to which the archive has reached and what is now happening to the materials he collected in the 1950s. The first materials to be digitized are from the AWG (Africa-West Africa-Ghana) series that were collected by him. 

Professor Nketia talked about his first interviews with indigenous performers, 62 years ago. He made a remark about the fact that he is 93 years old and even when he dies he has something to take with him – knowing that his materials will be put to use.

He said “Now it will be used how it was intended to be used. Not just hidden away in boxes.”


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First tape transferred! Listening station set up!

Congratulations Nat Kpogo, Chris Lacinak, and Seth Paris for your first successful transfer! The tape transferred was AWG-E-25, Ewe Songs and Rites, Totoeme, Gbelehawo, Puberty Rites, 1960.

AWG-E-25_outside  AWG-E-25_inside

And a big thanks to Ekow Arthur-Entsiwah, Principal IT Assistant, for setting up our listening station! We are all grateful for his generosity – he brought the monitor from his own work station and swapped it out for an older one. 

Ekow Arthur-Entsiwah

Two milestones in one day. We’ll tell you about the zigzag road it took the transfer team to get to this point in later posts and we will give you some longer listening. But right now we are just all thrilled!


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Degradation and obsolescence comes in the smallest forms

When installing an audio lab with older equipment, ensuring that everything works can be more complex than it might first appear. This week, we are setting up capabilities to digitize 1/4″ open reel audio (as well as cassette) at the Institute of African Studies Archive. We were fortunate to start with two open reel decks: one that they had in house for some time, and one which had been donated by University of Ghana Professor Esi Sutherland-Addy for her current research project, “Shall I tell You or Shall I Not Tell You A Survey of Ghanaian Tales and Storytelling Tradition.”



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