Academy Archivists and Librarians answer your questions

Ask an Archivist
Friday, October 7, 2016 - 11:00

Early today, in honor of California Archive Month, some of our archivists and librarians answered some excellent questions on Facebook. Here are a sample of the questions and answers:

Q: Question for the Script Librarian: How many screenplays are in the Academy's collection?

The Academy: Our amazing script librarian informs us that as of today we have 15,419 screenplays in the Core Collection scripts. This does not include the tens of thousands of scripts in Special Collections.

Q: Is there an online Academy films and scripts database and is it possible to make a search in it by visual (special) effects, film length and camera/video-audio editor settings/configuration?

A: The Academy is working to unify our databases to help make them more accessible. At this time you can search our Core Collection script holdings here and our Special Collections script holdings here. The Film Archive’s holdings are not currently searchable online.

Q: How is your film archive organized and why is it done in that particular way? How is it searched, navigated and accessed? How do you decide what to accept into your collection and what to turn away?

A: Great question! Films are organized in our vaults by weight in order to help ensure that we allow for maximum utilization of the vault shelves. In our database, information is cataloged so that both intellectual and physical information is noted. For example, we include information about the condition of the element as well as metadata that can be gleaned from the film’s credits. Though we are working to have our moving image catalog online in the future, the Film Archive’s database is not accessible at this time. Researchers and scholars with specific research questions may contact the Archive to request information at For information about our acquisition policy, visit

Q: Do you digitize old films and/or scripts and is it possible to search them by year, country of origin, genre, title, producer, actors, and format?  

A: Digitization of films can be costly and requires a strategic approach to ensure that duplicate work is not being conducted by another organization (or a studio) and to confirm that we aren’t utilizing resources towards material where copyright is held by third parties. 

Q: What temperature is the storage facility kept at to preserve the film negatives?

A: Our preservation elements are stored at 45 degrees Fahrenheit, 30% relatively humidity. Our film prints are stored at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, 30% relative humidity. Video is stored at 60 degrees Fahrenheit, 40% relative humidity.

Q: I know a number of people who collect movie ephemera - scripts, call sheets, studio documents etc. and are now worrying about what to do with their collections now, before they pass away. What advice would your archivists give to those wishing to preserve and share their collections with future generations?
A: One of the best ways to ensure that a collection is cared for and able to be accessed is to leave it with an archival institution such as the Margaret Herrick Library. This is often a very difficult thing for people to do, but we would encourage them to speak with an archivist who can help address their concerns. [You can email an archivist at]
Q: Why are archivist so awesome?

A:  Great question! Because we love what we do!
To see all the other questions and answers simply go to this post on Facebook