On Tuesday, October 27 at 3pm ET, AAPB staff will host a webinar marking the official launch the AAPB Online Reading Room!
Over the past two years, the AAPB team has worked closely with participating organizations, web developers, and legal counsel from WGBH, the Library of Congress and fellows from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School with the goal of providing access to historic public media content digitized through the AAPB initiative. In October, we will make available thousands of public television and radio programs that help tell the story of local communities in the last half of the 20th century and first decade of the 21st. This rich source of historic audiovisual material will be made available for research, educational, and informational purposes, freely accessible by scholars, researchers, students, educators, filmmakers and kids of all ages.
We hope that you will join us at our launch event webinar, during which we will share examples of some of the programs that have been made available in the Online Reading Room, demonstrate new features and functionalities, answer questions and ask for your feedback.
In January 2015, we announced that WGBH and the Library of Congress, on behalf of the AAPB, were awarded a grant by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to catalog the National Educational Television (NET) programs. We’re so excited to be working on this project to further the mission of the AAPB, to preserve and make accessible significant historic content created by public media and to coordinate a national effort to save it before it is lost to posterity.
NET was public television’s first national programming network, the precursor to PBS, and NET titles are among public media’s earliest and most at-risk content. The NET Collection includes 8,000–10,000 programs produced by more than 30 stations across the country from 1952-1972, a period marked by societal and cultural shifts of great importance. Public television itself changed significantly during this time. From its early dedication to childhood and adult education, NET by 1963 transitioned to serving adult audiences with documentaries exploring citizenship issues of urgency and cultural programming dedicated to the arts, humanities and sciences.
NET programs often covered internationally relevant topics and events, including new scientific research, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the treatment of prisoners in America, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the environment, various new approaches to human psychology, senior citizens, poverty, space exploration, and critical analysis of modern art.
In our previous digitization project, the earliest video formats that we digitized were 3/4-inch. The majority of the NET collection is on 16mm film, 2″ and 1″ videotape, and copies exist at multiple locations including the Library of Congress, Indiana University, WNET, WGBH and other stations that produced for NET. Before we can prioritize these materials for digitization and preservation, we need to know what the titles are, where they exist and who has the best copy.
We have been working hard on the first phase of the project, which includes developing a complete title list, or at least one that’s as complete as possible. We’ve gathered titles and other descriptive information from a variety of sources including:
● WGBH databases
● Library of Congress’s original inventory printouts
● Microfiche of NET program records
● NET’s Flexible Service Catalog
● Additional inventories created at the Library of Congress and PBS
The majority of these were only available on paper, some even on handwritten lists. We were able to OCR a few sources, while others had to be manually transcribed. Once we had the titles from each source stored electronically, we were able to compare them with each other. The resulting list includes more than 500 series, with over 8,500 episodes, as well as over 800 individually broadcast programs. We’re working on getting the list ready to publish on the AAPB website, so that collection holders and NET-era producers will be able to see which titles NET distributed, and see if any of these titles exist in their own collections.
Starting with an authoritative title list is important because it will help us clear up potential duplication of titles and duplicated preservation efforts. One possible source of duplication is that some pieces ended up airing multiple times but under different series. In situations like these, we will have one record for the content and assign that record multiple series titles and NOLA codes, since the content itself was the same each time it was broadcast.
The authoritative title list also helps us keep track of what was and wasn’t distributed by NET. Now that we have this information, we’ve started going through the existing inventory records in the AAPB and pulling out records for NET titles. This is a good starting place for the ultimate goal of the project, which is to create a catalog of NET titles that describes the content and also tracks where copies of the content exist across the country. Based on a cursory analysis, we believe that over 60% of the NET titles exist in the inventories of at least one of the AAPB participating organizations. We’re hoping to increase that number by reaching out to other stations and archives with NET materials.
While we work on getting together more information to share with you, if you have any questions please reach out to the NET project coordinator Sadie Roosa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are thrilled to announce that the Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded WGBH, on behalf of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, a National Leadership Grant for a project titled “Improving Access to Time-Based Media through Crowdsourcing and Machine Learning.”
Together, WGBH and Pop Up Archive plan to address the challenges faced by many libraries and archives trying to provide better access to their media collections through online discoverability. This 30-month project will combine technological and social approaches for metadata creation by leveraging scalable computation and engaging the public to improve access through crowdsourcing games for time-based media. The project will support several related areas of research and testing, including: speech-to-text and audio analysis tools to transcribe and analyze almost 40,000 hours of digital audio from the American Archive of Public Broadcasting; develop open source web-based tools to improve transcripts and descriptive data by engaging the public in a crowdsourced, participatory cataloging project; and create and distribute data sets to provide a public database of audiovisual metadata for use by other projects.
Our research questions are: How can crowdsourced improvements to machine-generated transcripts and tags increase the quality of descriptive metadata and enhance search engine discoverability for audiovisual content? How can a range of web-based games create news points of access and engage the public engagement with time-based media through crowdsource tools? What qualitative attributes of audiovisual public media content (such as speaker identities, emotion, and tone) can be successfully identified with spectral analysis tools, and how can feeding crowdsourced improvements back into audio analysis tools improve their future output and create training data that can be publicly disseminated to help describe other audiovisual collections at scale?
This project will use content from the AAPB to answer our questions. The project will fund 1) audio analysis tools – development and use of speech-to-text and audio analysis tools to create transcripts and qualitative waveform analysis for almost 40,000 hours of AAPB digital files (and participating stations can definitely receive copies of their own transcripts!); 2) metadata games – development of open-source web-based tools to improve transcripts and descriptive data by engaging the public in a crowd sourced, participatory cataloging project; 3) evaluating access – a measurement of improved access to media files from crowd sourced data; 4) sharing tools – open-source code release for tools developed over the course of the grant, and 5) teaching data set– the publication of initial and improved data sets to ‘teach’ tools and provide a public database of audiovisual metadata (audio fingerprint) for use by other projects working to create access to audiovisual material.
The 2014 National Digital Stewardship Agenda includes, “Engage and encourage relationships between private/commercial and heritage organizations to collaborate on the development of standards and workflows that will ensure long-term access to our recorded and moving image heritage.” These partnerships are critical in order to move the needle of audiovisual access issues of national significance. The AAPB and Pop Up Archive are eager to continue building such a relationship so that the innovations in technology, workflows, and data analysis advanced by the private sector are fully and sustainably leveraged for U.S. public media and cultural heritage organizations.
The AAPB NDSR program, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will place post-master’s degree residents at eight public media stations and organizations to provide support for those organizations to build digital preservation and management into their operations. In hosting a resident, participating organizations will gain:
the full-time contribution of a trained professional archivist for ten months whose salary is paid by the AAPB NDSR program
a direct link into a professional network of organizations with a vested interest in public broadcasting and preservation, including public media stations, archives holding public media content, and regional and national archival organizations
access to opportunities for continuing education and professional development offered through the NDSR program
a final deliverable designed for long-term public media organization benefit
We will be open to host applications for the residency program from October 1 – December 1, 2015.
More specific application details will be forthcoming over the next two months. In the meantime, make sure to check out our NDSR program website for more information.
The Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) has announced its first online learning series!
Beginning in September 2015, AMIA is offering three webinar series intended to further education in the archival moving image profession, as well as to provide introduction to these topics to the broader libraries and archives community. This is an excellent opportunity for public media professionals to learn about digital preservation best practices by leading archivists in the field of moving image archiving.
The series begins on September 15 and runs through October 20. You can register for the full series, or for individual sessions.
The second series is Best Practices for Small Audiovisual Archives. This two webinar series is directed to small institutions with audiovisual collections and limited staff. The series includes one overview session and one session on digitization. The webinars will be October 6 and October 8, 2015.
The third series is Best Practices for Personal Audiovisual Collections. This two webinar series is intended for families and individuals with audiovisual collections they wish to preserve. The series includes one overview session and one session on digitization. The webinars will be September 29 and October 1, 2015.
For individual session descriptions and registration information, visit www.AMIAOnline.org.
As an affiliate archive of the Radio Preservation Task Force (RPTF), we are pleased to share this announcement of the Radio Preservation Task Force Conference,on behalf of the RPTF:
Saving America’s Radio Heritage: Radio Preservation, Access and Education
The Radio Preservation Task Force, a unit of the Library of Congress’s National Recording Preservation Board, will hold its first national conference in Washington, D. C. in February 2016.
Keynote speakers will include Professor Paddy Scannell of the University of Michigan, a noted radio scholar and historian, and Sam Brylawski, former Head of the LOC’s Recorded Sound Division and a digital recording pioneer.
Our first national conference, Saving America’s Radio Heritage, will bring together our dedicated research associates and affiliated archives and collections, along with members of the broader academic, archival, media, and general public, to discuss what we have accomplished and plan for future activities. Over three days in February, we will tour the LOC’s Packard Center, meet for a day of panels focused on radio’s history and cultural significance at the LOC’s Madison Building, then move to the University of Maryland’s Center for Mass Media and Culture (formerly the Library of American Broadcasting) for a second day of workshops and caucuses focused on issues of outreach, growth, and education.
In 2014, the National Recording Preservation Board recognized the need to address the perilous state of the nation’s radio heritage, which has not received the archival and critical attention of other U.S. media. Over the last two years, the RPTF has coordinated a nation-wide effort to identify major collections of radio recordings and other materials that will help to raise cultural awareness of America’s rich tradition of radio-based soundwork and make it accessible to future generations.
A year and a half later, we have built an organization consisting of more than 130 media studies scholars actively engaged in researching radio’s past and identifying key archival sources; over 350 affiliate archives, collections, and radio producing organizations across the US and Canada; and a growing number of online partners who aid in critical discussion and dissemination of our efforts.
Last week, AAPB staff from WGBH and the Library of Congress had the honor of presenting at the 2015 Society of American Archivists conference in Cleveland, Ohio. In our presentation, we discussed the history and evolution of the AAPB, website development, metadata and cataloging of the collection, our forthcoming Online Reading Room, the value and significance of the AAPB and audiovisual collections in general to scholars and researchers, and the Library of Congress’ digital preservation strategy and workflows. Panelists included Karen Cariani, WGBH Project Director, Alan Gevinson, Library of Congress Project Director, Casey Davis, WGBH Project Manager, and James Snyder, Senior Systems Administrator at the Library of Congress. To read the tweets from our session, check out #S706 on Twitter. The general conference hashtag was #SAA15.
We were pleased to meet with colleagues from some of our current AAPB participating organizations, including Pacifica Radio Archives and University of Maryland, as well as with other archivists who manage and preserve public media collections.
We look forward to future opportunities to share news about the project. Next up: FIAT/IFTA in October! We hope to see you there!
The NDSR is a post-graduate digital stewardship residency program that was originally spearheaded by the Library of Congress in partnership with IMLS. In that program, residents were placed at institutions in Washington, D.C., to develop, apply, and enhance digital archive stewardship knowledge and skills in real world settings. Additional NDSR programs, also funded by IMLS, have recently begun in New York and in Boston, led by Harvard University and MIT (Boston), and Metropolitan New York Library Council in partnership with the Brooklyn Historical Society (New York). WGBH served as one of five host institutions for the NDSR Boston program.
The need for the AAPB NDSR project is threefold. First, there is an urgent need for more hands-on training in digital preservation. “[T]he demands for individuals skilled in the area of digital preservation greatly exceeds the supply…. Further, because digital preservation strategies continue to evolve, training of those responsible for the care of digital records needs to be an ongoing commitment.” This is particularly true for digital audiovisual materials. Digital preservation of audiovisual materials presents unique challenges as compared with digital photographs, documents, and other static born digital materials. Audiovisual materials typically have large file sizes, making the transfer from one storage medium to another prone to error, and often are stored in proprietary file formats and contain multiple codecs, presenting additional immediate and long-term preservation challenges.
Few graduates of library and information science and archival graduate programs complete their degrees with any practical digital preservation experience, yet the amount of digital audiovisual materials created every day is enormous. Because many analog formats of audiovisual materials are becoming obsolete, content stored on these formats must be migrated to a digital format in order to be preserved. With the exception of UCLA’s Moving Image and Archives Program and New York University’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program, training for audiovisual materials is generally a minute piece of the classroom experience in library and information science degree programs. Many students graduating from these programs have little knowledge of media carrier formats and are even less familiar with digital file formats and the complexities faced with digital media.
Advanced certificates in digital curation and stewardship are available at a few graduate programs (e.g., Simmons College and the University of Arizona), but these programs do not focus specifically on complex digital media. There is, however, a strong interest in audiovisual preservation among digitally-focused graduates of archival master’s degree programs. In fact, 41% of the applicants for the NDSR Boston program selected WGBH Media Library and Archives as their first choice for their residency out of the five institutions. Yet very few were qualified for the audiovisual-specific WGBH residency.
The second need for this project is to address the lack of staffing of professional archivists at public television and radio organizations across the country. For nearly 60 years, public media (television and radio) stations and independent producers have been creating educational and cultural content. Since the early 1950s, the American public has invested more than $10 billion in this programming, which after its initial broadcast often is never seen nor heard again. Program tapes have sat on shelves and in closets for years, deteriorating and inaccessible to scholars, researchers, producers, educators, and the general public. Without migration of these historical objects to digital formats, we may be in jeopardy of losing some of the most important programming that makes up our national audiovisual heritage.
The born digital video and audio files created on a daily basis at public media organizations nationwide also must be actively managed and preserved. Most of these organizations, however, do not have formal archives or professional archivists on staff. Most public television and radio personnel do not know how to start a digital preservation program or how to handle the overwhelming amount of media content created digitally at their stations every day.
Finally, the third need for this project is to test the feasibility of expanding the NDSR model to a national scale with residents distributed across the country who will communicate with each other virtually. The NDSR model has been shown to be beneficial at the local level (e.g., Washington D.C., Boston, and New York City) but has not yet been tested as a geographically dispersed model. This project will develop ways for residents to successfully use virtual networking to benefit individual projects and to support the cohort. It will challenge residents working in different geographic locations but with the same type of archival materials to communicate with each other in meaningful and beneficial ways. This project will provide the groundwork for a successful national virtual residency program. The results of this national virtual residency program will be especially informative for replicating the NDSR model in regions of the U.S. that have relatively low population densities or that do not have public transportation networks, making virtual interaction necessary.
Through the AAPB NDSR Project, residents will be immersed in digital audiovisual stewardship, establishing for each resident a path toward a successful career in audiovisual archives. Graduates of master’s programs who seek careers in audiovisual digital archives will have the opportunity to develop skills and gain experience working in this setting, combining intensive work in the field with focused curriculum, professional development, and mentorship. The residencies will further improve residents’ qualifications for future jobs in audiovisual and/or digital archives. As a result of the residencies, the number of qualified professionals with specific digital audiovisual archival experience will increase.
Public media organizations serving as host institutions each will be granted one archivist position funded for ten months, a position that most stations have never had. Many public media organizations are not aware of standard archival practices. Many must find ways to accommodate for limited resources, time, and effort. In the archival field, hands-on experience often is necessary for students to build skills and knowledge. Library and archival theory is difficult to implement to the fullest extent in real-life situations without prior practical training. Bringing together a graduate of a master’s program who has theoretical knowledge of best practices with a station having a need for those practices will mutually benefit the residents and the host institutions.
Evaluation of the Washington, D.C., NDSR program revealed that cohorts appreciated having meetings among themselves and host institutions. Through this project, residents will gain great experience in learning how best to network virtually, a skill they will need in their future careers. Virtual meeting has become the norm in the working world. The residents at some point in their careers will be working at institutions and partnering with other organizations at great distances where extensive face-to-face networking will not always be possible. This residency program will give the residents hands-on experience with virtual networking and collaboration to accomplish their projects.
This project will build upon the mentor component of the Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York NDSR programs. Each resident will have two official mentors throughout their residency: a Station Mentor and an Advisory Board mentor. The WGBH Project Team also will seek to connect residents with an informal, third mentor — an Archivist Mentor — local to the town/city where the resident is stationed. The Station Mentor will immerse the resident in the world of public media and will provide guidance on production workflow and mentality. The Advisory Board mentor, an expert in digital preservation, will provide virtual guidance throughout the residency. The Archivist Mentor will help the resident become connected with the local archival community.
The AAPB Project Team at WGBH is looking forward to working with the residents, stations, and the Advisory Board to continue stewardship of this important program, cultivating digital stewards of audiovisual archival materials among residents and public media organizations. We’ll continue to provide updates as the project moves forward, and for more information about the project, visit ndsr.americanarchive.org.
 Wendy M. Duff, Amy Marshall, Carrie Limkilde, and Marlene van Ballegooie, “Digital Preservation Education: Educating or Networking?” American Archivist 69 (2006), 188-89,http://www.jstor.org/stable/i40011850.
The following is a guest post by Lily Troia, AAPB Cataloging Intern.
Hi. My name is Lily Troia and I am a public media junkie. I will admit, it is a bit of a problem. The first thing I do when traveling to any new town is find the local radio affiliate for my fix of daily news. I frequently cry along to This American Life, sit in my parked car laughing hysterically to Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me’s antics, and I am certain Antiques Roadshow curtailed more than one family fight over the remote during my childhood.
I blame my mom and dad, ultimately, for a northern Wisconsin upbringing entrenched in public media. In the expanse of the rural Northwoods, commercial radio and static occupied most of the airwaves, with one local NPR-affiliate, WOJB, broadcast off a nearby Ojibwe reservation, serving as a beacon of independent thought and music for our small community. Cable was a luxury not yet accessible to remote country residents in the 1980s, and since my back-to-the-lander family couldn’t entertain the idea of a satellite dish, our viewing options included only NBC and PBS, with the occasional blurry-screened ABC when snowmobile traffic was reduced (seriously). Thus, I was the kid carrying my parents’ Wisconsin Public Television member tote bag to the summer pool, raised on a diet of Sesame Street, Square One, and 3-2-1 Contact in an era of Nickelodeon.
Decades later I found myself collaborating professionally with Minnesota Public Radio and Twin Cities Public Television on a regular basis. A classical music performer throughout my youth, I studied ethnomusicology at Northwestern University, yet felt disconnected from the cloistered world of academia, and eventually turned my musical interests to the business world. While running my own music management firm in Minneapolis, I produced numerous live and recorded projects, and frequently contributed content to MPR as a music and arts culture commentator. These experiences further solidified my lifelong love of and dedication to public media. Now back in school, pursuing a Masters in Library and Information Science at Simmons College, I have the unique opportunity to apply my music and humanities background in the arena of preservation and access, synthesizing my passion for scholarship and public service.
Life occasionally delivers instances of perfect serendipity; joining the American Archive of Public Broadcasting feels like such an instance. It truly is a professional dream to work on such a socially vital, dynamic project. Already in my brief time cataloging archival content from member stations across the country, I have learned about an influx of Mexican immigrants to Wyoming in the 1990s, listened to a decades-old KUT broadcast featuring Eliza Gilkyson, and discovered that Oregon hipster culture began long before Portlandia, in the form of a 1985 municipally-sponsored beard-growing contest. In a time when public media is forced to fight for basic funding–my Wisconsin stations are currently facing potential demise–ensuring the longevity and availability of this immeasurably valuable, cultural material has never been more important. What an inspiration to be at an organization like WGBH, committed to protecting and providing access to these historical gems that document our diverse American stories.
Passionate about archives and public broadcasting? Want to join a team of individuals who are preserving and providing access to 60 years worth of audiovisual cultural heritage?
Then this announcement is for you!
The Library of Congress is seeking to fill the position of Digital Conversion Specialist for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting.
This position is located in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division (MBRS) at the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia. The incumbent provides analysis, reporting, planning, overall coordination, and oversight activities for the American Archive Project, comprised initially of 40.000 hours of digitized audio and video content received from public broadcasting stations to be supported for preservation and access. Individually and in collaboration with MBRS stakeholders, staff from the Library’s Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) and Information Technology Services (ITS), and other American Archive Project staff, the incumbent assists with program components that include the design, implementation, and evaluation of the project, the review of metadata and related policies and procedures, the development of strategies for metadata capture. normalization, transformation, storage, and output, models for information access and delivery, and oversees the accessioning of digital files received from project vendor(s).
Project Development Activities: 30%
Serves as project coordinator of American Archive Project activities, performing project management and scheduling activities as needed at the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation. Assists in designing, implementing, and evaluating project work, including policy and communication issues, and assures coordination and maximum impact through a combination of public and private resources.
Metadata Mapping and Transformation: 30%
Develops work plans, requirements, intake specifications, conversion specifications, and metadata strategies for audio and video content specific to the assigned project. Analyzes requirements and develops strategies for metadata capture, normalization, transformation, storage, and output. Participates in reviewing, developing, and implementing metadata application policies and procedures, particularly in relation to metadata mapping and transformation of PBCore metadata into MAVIS, the Library of Congress MBRS content management system.
Data and Project Analysis: 30%
Oversees the preparation for and archiving of the digitized project files and data in a secure and stable repository. Participates in developing and implementing procedures for management and security of digital resources aligned with policies established across the Library to support security of heritage assets, including reporting requirements.
Liaison Services: 10%
Working with MBRS staff responsible for the digital repository, participates in the processes for storing or archiving completed work comprised of digital assets. For digital reformatting projects, collections may be digitized by digital conversion contractors who specialize in moving images and sound recordings. Some collections may be digitized by MBRS staff.