Friday, February 6, 2009

The Western Silent Films Lobby Card Collection, 1912-1930

The Western Silent Films Lobby Card Collection, 1912-1930

This collection is within the Yale University Collection of Western Americana and is part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. It contains 105 printed items that were used in the promotion of silent and western films made between 1910 and 1930. The lobby cards in this collection were created to supplement movie posters and were displayed in the lobbies of movie theaters. There are 86 lobby cards and 19 printed fliers promoting 68 films in the collection.

The main page gives a brief description of the collection and lists the call number, how to cite it, and the where to find the catalog record. The user is able to either see all images or search within the collection. I searched for “guns” and “sunset” and both times came up with several relevant results that suggest the items are tagged thoughtfully and are thus easy to search through using keywords pertaining to the film genre. The intended audience would be anyone interested in westerns, silent films, early examples of movie posters, or film historians. Also, the Beineke collections are meant to offer research opportunities in interdisciplinary fields including art history, photography, the history of printing, and American studies which are all relevant to this collection.

If you choose to view all images you are able to jump to different pages (1-6) or click save on the images you are interested in. These “saved” images will appear in a separate window if you click on “my group,” which is a handy feature for those wishing to come back to certain images without wading through an entire collection. You can also view the image at 4x, 8x, or download it to zoom in. The downloadable image is in the .sid format and I do not seem to have an application that will open this kind of document. This surely has to do with the size and quality of the image but it is unfortunate that it is not a format that is more widely accessible. When viewing each page of the collection you are also able to change the background of the page to gray which is easier on the eyes than the stark white.

After selecting an image and clicking on it you are able to click the image for a larger size and then zoom in once. The images are of high quality but do not allow you to zoom in very far. The metadata listed includes the title, date, physical description, a list of applicable subject matters, the genre/form, what collection it is part of, the card number, the folder or box number, how to cite it, the bibliographic record number, the image ID number, and the url link to the page. Only some images include information regarding the author or creator of the image. You can also print this information as a reference page. It might be a helpful addition of the user were able to go to the image before or after the one they've selected rather than having to return to the page with all of them listed in order to view another.

This collection is well curated and easy to navigate. The images are high quality and contain a plethora of useful metadata. The main website for the Beineke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library includes a helpful "Guide to Research Tools," that can be helpful in using the Lobby Card Collection as well as a page that allows users to search through the entire catalog of digital images hosted by the Library.

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