An inventory is a basic necessity of any collection which multiple titles require preservation, and a good place to begin a preservation project. As it is not always possible to catalogue an entire collection during the early stages of a preservation project, an inventory is a good way to compile initial information.
An inventory of video art should include:
* Total number of tapes
* Number of tapes by format (i.e. 3/4", VHS, etc.)
* Age range of tapes
* Basic information about each tape's condition
In the process of doing this inventory, it is a good time to keep an eye for particularly damaged or visibly deteriorated tapes. Also note the overall composition of the collection. Are there master tapes that are clearly labelled as such? Are there multiple copies of the same title etc.?
With this basic information, a clearer picture of preservation needs emerges and it is now possible to begin estimating costs for preserving part or all of a collection.
One critical point must be kept in mind when considering the cataloguing of video art is that since the process requires that a tape be viewed to determine its complete content, creators, etc., it should never be done on damaged or deteriorated tapes. Instead, cataloguing should be done after preservation work, by viewing access copies of the preserved tape.
Cataloguing can be surprisingly complicated. Numerous standards have been set by librarians and archivists to keep catalogue records consistent between various institutions and databases. Before building a database of catalogue records, it is helpful to consult an archivist or cataloguing guide to be sure that you are gathering the right information - and organising it properly.
An important part of cataloguing is the use of a consistent vocabulary. For further information regarding vocabulary, please also see the Glossary section of this guide.
A basic catalogue record of video art should include:
* Name of the artist
* Unique identification number
* Date of production
* Colour or black & white
* Sound or silent/language
* Running time
* Tape stock
* Whether it is part of a series
* Any notes written on, or accompanying, the container or reel
* Physical condition of the tape
* Tape's storage history, if known
Electronic Arts Intermix
Independent Media Arts Preservation
Variable Media Network
Netherlands Media Art Institute