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The following is a guest post by Karen Cariani, AAPB Project Director and Director WGBH Media Library and Archive, Alan Gevinson, AAPB Project Director and Special Assistant to the Packard Campus Chief, and Casey Davis, Project Manager, American Archive of Public Broadcasting, WGBH Educational Foundation.
The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) Project Team at WGBH and the Library of Congress is pleased to announce the launch of the AAPB Online Reading Room, providing access to nearly 7,000 digitized audio and video programs dating from the late 1940s through the present.
The AAPB, a collaboration between WGBH Educational Foundation and the Library of Congress, seeks to preserve and make accessible significant historical content created by public media, and to coordinate a national effort to save at-risk public media before its content is lost to posterity.
In December 2014, the AAPB completed overseeing the digitization of nearly 40,000 hours of audio and video materials contributed by more than 100 public broadcasting stations and archives across the country. This extraordinary collection includes national, regional, and local news and public affairs programs, productions documenting the heritage of local communities, and programs on education, environmental issues, music, art, literature, dance, poetry, religion, and even local filmmaking. Staff at the Library’s National Audio-Visual Conservation Center are currently ingesting files of these programs into the digital archive of the Packard Campus Data Center in Culpeper, VA for permanent preservation.
In April 2015, WGBH and the Library soft-launched the AAPB website at americanarchive.org, providing access to 2.5 million inventory records gathered prior to the digitization project. These records document public media materials at 120 stations nationwide. Over the past year, AAPB staff have worked on cataloging and navigating copyright issues to ensure discoverability and access to the collection. Using an approach that the team calls “Minimum Viable Cataloging (MVC),” interns from the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science have been trained to spend 15 minutes per title reviewing credits, writing short descriptions, and adding dates, titles, creators, contributors, genres, topics, and copyright information to records supplied by the stations. Following this model, the entire current AAPB digitized collection will be cataloged in 6 years at most; AAPB staff have calculated that more detailed cataloging could take more than 30 years.
At the same time, the Project Team has worked closely with legal counsel from WGBH and the Library, as well as representatives from the Cyberlaw Clinic and Fellows community at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society to identify rights-related issues and solutions with the goal of making as much of the collection as accessible as possible for research, educational, and informational purposes.
While users have already begun to access the entire collection on location at WGBH and the Library, this week marks the launch of free online access to thousands of programs in the AAPB Online Reading Room. The initial launch includes access to nearly 7,000 items, and as cataloging continues; this number will steadily increase.
Among the historic recordings available in the collection are:
- an inaugural FM educational radio program in 1947 (Wisconsin Public Radio)
- an interview from 1956 with Rosa Parks on her refusal to give up her seat on a public bus, leading to the Montgomery Bus Boycott (Pacifica Radio Archives)
- an interview with Edward R. Murrow from 1959 assessing the performance of the American press (WGBH)
- the series “Long, Hot Summer ’64″ of weekly radio reports from key sites of the struggle for civil rights (WGBH)
- a lecture by Ayn Rand on national unity from 1972 (New England Public Radio)
- a rare interview produced for American television audiences with Simone de Beauvoir (WNED, Buffalo)
- an episode of “Voter’s Pipeline” from 1979 discussing the growing number of refugees in the United States from Vietnam (KOCE, Costa Mesa, CA)
In addition to the inauguration of the Online Reading Room, the AAPB also has launched three curated exhibitions featuring items of topical and historical significance:
- Documenting and Celebrating Public Broadcasting Station Histories
- Voices of the Southern Civil Rights Movement
- Climate Change Conversations: Causes, Impacts and Solutions
The AAPB plans to continue adding curated exhibitions in the archive to improve access and increase use of the collection by educators and students.
The AAPB is currently expanding its efforts with three exciting, forward-looking projects: the National Educational Television (NET) Collection Catalog Project, funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR); the National Digital Stewardship Residency Project, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS); and Improving Access to Time-Based Media through Crowdsourcing and Machine Learning, also funded by IMLS.
Please feel free to get in touch with us with any questions, suggestions, and comments on your experience using the Online Reading Room and exploring the exhibitions and collection!
The University of California expands the reach of its research publications by issuing a Presidential Open Access Policy, allowing future scholarly articles authored by all UC employees to be freely shared with readers worldwide. Read announcement here.
I’m always interested in the hows and whys of folks getting involved in digitally inflected research. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and describe what motivated you to take a path that brings Art History and digital research together?
As an ally, following this hashtag and injunction is one of the ways I try to listen and learn from the #BlackLivesMatter movement in order to keep my scholarly and personal commitment to social justice active and responsive to current events and the power of grassroots organization. For Fall 2015, I was about to teach a course of my own design entitled “Black Power, Yellow Peril,” an advanced writing seminar on the comparative racialization of African Americans and Asian Americans from the nineteenth-century through to the present-day. I wanted to figure out how to develop a participation component of my syllabus to help my students also #staywoke – to take our class as a starting point for their exploration of these issues and other intersecting conversations and to view the course as one of many sites of the ongoing complex politics that happen all around them every day.