Meet American Archive Intern Bill Nehring

Hello.  My name is Bill Nehring. I am an intern for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting at WGBH and I am writing to introduce myself.  I am currently a student in the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science with a concentration in Archives Management and I am most interested in moving image archives.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help the American Archive of Public Broadcasting because I believe wholeheartedly in its mission to preserve American public radio and television programming and make it available for years to come.

My exposure to public television parallels my earliest childhood memories.  I grew up in New Jersey, but every summer I would spend a few weeks of my school vacation with my grandparents in New Hampshire. Among the highlights of those visits were the days I spent on my great-grandparents farm.  My great-grandmother, Nan, was a terrific baker, painter and keen observer of nature. We would spend hours looking through our magnifying glasses at insects or walking the old stone walls in her apple orchard, but when it was time for the Macneil/Lehrer Report (and later the Macneil/Lehrer Newshour) we dropped what we were doing and went inside. Nan would “fix” me a glass of Tang and we’d watch the news together. She would do her best to explain what the stories were about, and without fail she would praise the show’s format because they spent “more time on the stories that matter” and “don’t waste our time with those infernal ads!”  For me, if Nan liked it, I liked it too.

It wasn’t until after I graduated from Monmouth College with a dual degree in History and Education that I got hooked on NPR. My first job after college was as a cataloger at the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation (now the USC Shoah Foundation).  The Shoah Foundation collected over 50,000 videotaped interviews with Holocaust survivors. The cataloging staff was tasked with watching the interviews, adding time codes that marked the start and end points of subject-based segments, applying “keywords” from a controlled vocabulary of descriptive terms and summarizing each segment as well as the entire testimony.  It was pretty heady stuff and pretty heavy content.  This is when the seed of becoming an archivist was planted for me, and it was during my commute to and from work on the parched freeways of Los Angeles that I discovered the vibrant and informative programing of NPR over the airwaves of KCRW and KPCC

NPR programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, On Point, On The Media, The World, Science Friday, and Marketplace as well as PBS shows such as The Newshour, Frontline, Nova, The American Experience, Charlie Rose and Tavis Smiley have been the lens through which I have learned about and reflected upon the major events of my adult life.

Public broadcasting is also one of the places I go to first for entertainment. Shows like Austin City Limits, Nature, This Old House and Masterpiece on PBS as well as Morning Becomes Eclectic, Car Talk, This American Life, The Vinyl Café (CBC show) and A Celtic Sojourn on NPR keep me laughing and tapping my toes.

So, although you wouldn’t know it by the amount I contribute during pledge drives (blush), I am an unabashed zealot for public broadcasting. I am that seemingly strange guy with a grin and a faraway look sitting in his car in the grocery store parking lot (I’m probably trying to catch all of the unofficial sponsors of Car Talk. “Ornithology Expert, Luke A. Boyd. Figure Skating Coach, Landon McKeaster. Air Traffic Controller, Ulanda U. Lucky.” I love those!). I am also soon to be an archivist who recognizes that the programs public broadcasting has created over the past 60 years are an invaluable historical record that must be preserved.

As an intern I will help develop description guidelines that will help future interns navigate the AMS and PBCore metadata, create examples of the PBCore elements that will help users understand how to implement the metadata standard, ingest new material into the AMS and help develop guidelines for stations who are contributing material and write blog posts featuring highlights from the AAPB collection.

I look forward to working with you all.  See you again in future blog posts!


Bill Nehring
Master’s Candidate, Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science
American Archive of Public Broadcasting Intern, Spring 2014

♥ Happy Valentine’s Day from the American Archive and Chicago Public Media! ♥

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air today as we share with you a clip from the American Archive, contributed by Chicago Public Media (WBEZ), featuring Little Milton singing “I Want to Love You” at the Chicago Blues Festival in June of 1987.

“The Chicago Blues Festival has been a Chicago institution for over 30 years and has grown to hold the title of the largest free blues festival in the world. Held every summer in Chicago’s Grant Park, the festival has consistently featured blues legends alongside the future stars of the genre and, despite Chicago’s embarrassment of riches when it comes to blues artists, features performers from around the world. If they’ve sung the blues, chances are they’ve appeared at the festival,” says Chicago Public Media’s Director of Studio and Broadcast Operations Adam Yoffe. “WBEZ has been lucky enough to capture some of the earliest years of the festival to tape, and are excited to bring them to the archive in the coming months.”

Chicago Public Media’s music archives feature interviews and live performances with many of the most revered jazz and blues figures in the country and includes hundreds of reels that date from the mid-1980s to the early ’90s, such as performances of jazz greats Etta James and Dizzy Gillespie and blues legends Lonnie Brooks and Koko Taylor.

This program we’re sharing today was originally recorded on 1/4″ audio tape and was digitized in the first 40,000 hours of the American Archive collection, which are now being preserved at the Library of Congress.

This American Life showcased in today's Google Doodle
This American Life showcased in today’s Google Doodle

And while your in the Valentine’s Day spirit, you should check out today’s Google Doodle. WBEZ’s This American Life has collaborated with Google on today’s Doodle, featuring candy hearts and Valentine’s Day-themed stories produced by This American Life.

**Audio clip courtesy Chicago Public Media (WBEZ). All rights reserved.
Thanks to American Archive intern Bill Nehring for editing today’s clip.
This post was written by Casey E. Davis, Project Manager for the AAPB at WGBH

George McGovern Speaks in Dayton, Ohio

In June 1972, Presidential Democratic Party candidate George McGovern spoke in the city of Dayton, Ohio. Local public radio station WYSO-FM, located on the campus of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, sent a staff member to record the event. When asked by a campaign staffer whether people around the Dayton area were for McGovern or Nixon, the WYSO-FM reporter responded that “around here, around the college area, most people are for McGovern, but they’re wondering if he has a chance with the general population…they wonder if he can convince people around the country to vote for him.”

While serving South Dakota as a U.S. Senator, McGovern became widely known for his strong opposition to the U.S.’s growing involvement in the Vietnam War. He ran on a presidential platform advocating for withdrawal from Vietnam in exchange for the return of American prisoners of war. Nixon, in turn, argued that McGovern would settle for “peace at any price” in Vietnam rather than “peace with honor,” which Nixon said he would bring about. Becoming one of the biggest landslides in American electoral history, McGovern ultimately lost the general election to incumbent Richard Nixon.

Originally recorded on 1/4″ audio tape, this recording was digitized as part of the initial 40,000 hours of American Archive material and was contributed to the collection by WYSO-FM. The preservation files from the digitization project are now being preserved at the Library of Congress. We’ve selected a few minutes from McGovern’s speech in Dayton to share with you today.

This post was written by Casey E. Davis, Project Manager for the AAPB at WGBH.

Managing and Preserving Your Born-Digital Files

Over the past couple of months, the American Archive project team has been working with stations to contribute born-digital or previously digitized files to the American Archive. That is, the types of material we are now gathering for submission into the archive already exist on file-based media, such as Quicktime video files or .wav audio files. During the Content Inventory project, stations created inventory records for the tangible, physical media. As we have been reaching out to stations regarding born-digital, new questions arise:

  • How do we record information, or metadata, about the digital files?
  • What different types of information need to be captured?
  • What are the best practices for creating, naming, organizing, and storing digital files?

Today we want to share with you some general best practices for managing your digital media files. These suggestions may already be common practice for some stations, and if that’s the case, you’re certainly ahead of the game! Best practices for creating and managing digital media are constantly evolving. If you have any suggestions to add to this list, please share them by commenting on this post.


Give each file a Unique Identifier, and if possible, add the unique identifier as an addendum to the file name, e.g:

Original file name:
Unique identifier that you assign the file name: wgbh_10467

New file name:

For camera generated digital files or Source Clips: DO NOT CHANGE OR RENAME THE  FILES.  Instead of changing the original file name, create a folder containing the individual file and name the folder using the Unique Identifier.

Record as much other information about the asset as possible by following the guidelines set forth in the Content Inventory Project. To download a sample Excel file with the basic metadata fields, click here.

Most importantly: Record where to find the asset on a hard drive by providing the full file path.

 Naming Digital Files

Folder and file names should only use:

  • A to Z (small case and capitalization are both acceptable
  • Numbers 0-9.
  • Underscores are acceptable but no other symbols such as !@#$%^&*() – +=|?,
  • A period is acceptable only before an application extension (.doc, .jpeg, etc)
  • No spaces within the folder and file name

Try to record essential information such as format type, date of creation and modification in the file names or through the folder structure.

File Organization

Think carefully about how best to organize your digital files in folders. Consider the best hierarchy for your digital files and whether a deep or shallow hierarchy is preferable. Files can be organized in folders according to:

  • Program Title
  • Format Generation (Master, B roll, Interview, Stock Footage, etc.)
  • Date
  • Camera Model or Digital Format (P2, Quicktime, XDCAM, MP4, DVCPro etc.)
  • Unique ID

Making Back-ups

Making back-ups of your digital files is an essential component to digitally preserving your files. Regular back-ups help to protect against hardware failure, software or media faults, viruses, power failure, or human error. Have multiple copies stored in different locations — on multiple hard drives, on your server, etc.

Data Storage

Like physical tapes, digital files are constantly at risk of being lost forever. Digital files really are only just a series of ones and zeroes — bytes of data — that must be rendered and played back. Like physical formats, digital formats can quickly become obsolete. A few suggestions:

  • create digital files using standardized formats for long-term readability
  • every two to five years, copy or migrate digital files to new hard drives, since the media storing the files are subject to degradation
  • create a schedule to regularly check the files to make sure they are still playable
  • store your digital files on two different forms of storage, such as a hard drive and a server
  • organize and clearly label your hard drives or other storage mediums
  • ensure that the areas where you are storing your hard drives and physical tapes are at a low risk of fire, flood, or other type of disaster

If you have any questions, suggestions, or resources you’d like to share about best practices for preserving born-digital media, please contribute your thoughts by commenting!

**Many thanks to WGBH Digital Archive Manager Leah Weisse for her contributions to this blog post!

This post was written by Casey E. Davis, Project Manager for the AAPB at WGBH.

Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial rally, Bascom Hill, UW-Madison, April 5, 1968

On the third Monday of every January, America honors one of the great martyrs to the cause of civil rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To commemorate his lifetime of commitment and sacrifice, we share with you today an audio file from the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, courtesy University of Wisconsin-Madison Archive, Steenbock Library and Wisconsin Public Radio.

The day following Dr. King’s assassination in Memphis, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Chancellor William Sewell suspended classes to mourn the assassinated civil rights leader. That afternoon, on April 5, 1968, a huge gathering of students and faculty met at the campus’s Bascom Hill to participate in memorial services. The Madison Police Department called it “the largest mass demonstration ever held in Madison,” with an estimated total of 15,000 participants.

“It has been a long time since this whole university community has felt a loss so deeply. This man more than any other challenged the forces of hatred and bigotry. This man more than any other gave us a hope that someday this nation might rise above racism and intolerance,” spoke Chancellor William Sewell. “It would be a betrayal of America if we did not learn from his death and if we did not now pledge ourselves to carry forward the spirit and the promise of his faith.”

Black student leaders Sidney Glass, Kenny Erwin, Kenny Williamson and Clara Meek were among the speakers of the memorial service. A predominantly white audience listened to them talk about their grief, racism, the importance of black solidarity. After the students had spoken, the crowd marched up State Street and around the square on UW-Madison’s campus.

The next day, hundreds of students met in classrooms and held discussion forums led by black students. In response to Dr. King’s assassination, the university pledged to create a Martin Luther King scholarship fund “to work for the elimination of racism and racial misunderstanding on campus and within the community…”

Originally recorded on 1/4″ audio tape, the audio clip we have shared today was digitized as part of the initial 40,000 hours of content preserved in the American Archive collection.

Audio clip courtesy University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives, Steenbock Library; Contribution, Wisconsin Public Radio
Image courtesy University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives, Steenbock Library
Content provided from the media collection of Wisconsin Public Broadcasting, a service of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board. All rights reserved by the particular owner of content provided. For more information, please contact 1-800-422-9707
This post was written by Casey E. Davis, Project Manager for the AAPB at WGBH.

Ann Wilkens of Wisconsin Public Television reports on the American Archive

Hello friends and colleagues!

Wisconsin Public Television is proud to have the opportunity to participate in the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. Now that hundreds of hours of our content have been made digitally accessible, we are able to actually view our old programs, enrich the metadata, and eventually share our content with the public. Here are a few observations:

• From the beginning our programming has been innovative, educational, and reflective.

• Our work with the AAPB has given us a jump start on our in-house digitizing. The hours digitized by Crawford represent about 3 percent of our collection. With some urgency we’ve been digitizing analog formats to uncompressed Quicktime files with priority on older unique items on 3/4 inch videotape and 1 inch videotape. 1 inch videotape is extremely reliable. We’ve had a handful of problems playing back 3/4 inch videotape but that too for the most part has been successful. Whew! We’ve got breathing room with our film holdings because of their stability under proper storage conditions. On the other hand, that format is the least accessible.

• Much of the programming from the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s has been lost. Viewing what we do have from that time period is hindered by the age and robustness of the format and playback equipment. So, when we were finally able to watch programs through the Archival Management System (AMS) it was like opening a treasure chest. Every program offers a glimpse at our past. And they are just plain fun to watch.

• We’ve discovered that programs we thought we produced were produced by others. As I’m sure you know, old tapes usually have very little metadata, perhaps a title and date (created? Aired? Dubbed?) on the label and that’s it. There was really no way to be certain of its provenance. After watching the digitized content through the AMS we discovered programs that were produced by other PBS or commercial stations. We will return those to you as we are able!

• What should we do with the analog tapes now that they are digitized? Good question. The usual archival practice is to always keep the original. In this case the original and the technology are going to be obsolete in the near future and the cost of digitizing analog again (if better technology comes along) is time consuming, expensive, and what would we gain visually by doing it? We need to make sure we responsibly manage the digital collections into the future. (This is the part where I wish I was a manuscript archivist.) We are at this time retaining the originals.

• We’ve elected to receive the proxy and mezzanine files from Crawford. Our aim is to incorporate the proxies in our online database (under development), use the mezzanine format [mpeg2 mxf] in our production workflow, and archive both formats to LTO. As for the preservation files (JPEG2K), we will leave those in the care of the Library of Congress. Their mandate is to care for them for the life of the Republic plus 500 years, by which time I will almost be ready to retire.

Ann Wilkens has been the media archivist at Wisconsin Public Television since 2004.

Ann Wilkens, Media Archivist at Wisconsin Public Television
Ann Wilkens, Media Archivist at Wisconsin Public Television

Onward toward the 5,000 hour goal

I hope that you all enjoyed wonderful holidays with family and friends, and my best wishes to you and yours for a happy and prosperous New Year 2014.

Now that the holidays are over, we are excited to start moving forward with the addition of 5,000 more hours of born-digital or previously digitized materials to the American Archive. Several stations have committed to contributing material, and we are already more than halfway to our goal!

If your station participated in the American Archive Pilot Project, managed by Oregon Public Broadcasting in 2009, we would love to include the materials digitized in that project in our selection. Please email me if you would like to contribute those files and/or other digital files that you would like preserved with the American Archive collection.

If your station did not participate in the Pilot Project, but you do have born-digital or previously digitized material that you would like to contribute, please send me an email letting me know an approximate number of hours of audio/video files you want to submit and whether the files were included in your Content Inventory.

The process will be very simple.

For materials included in the Content Inventory:

If the materials you want to submit were included in your Content Inventory, then you can send me a list of GUIDs (American Archive unique identifiers, which are found with in record in the AMS), or a list of local ID’s you assigned to your assets in the inventory. I can easily batch nominate the materials for you. You could also nominate the materials yourself (it’s really easy, and I can show you how).

For materials not included in the Content Inventory:

If the files you want to contribute were not included in your Content Inventory, then we would just need a CSV file that contains the same information about each asset that was asked for during the Content Inventory Project:

  • Identifier
  • Identifier Source
  • Series Title
  • Program Title
  • Genre
  • Source of Genre
  • Unique ID
  • Unique ID Source
  • Format (digital)
  • Generation
  • Duration
  • Location

[Click here to download a sample CSV file.]

Upon receipt of the CSV (or PBCore XML), we could batch ingest the metadata into the AMS and nominate the records for you.

For materials digitized in the Pilot Project:

If you are interested in contributing files digitized in the Pilot Project, then good news — we already have the metadata and can ingest it into the system for you! In this case, all you would need to do is put the files on the drive and ship it to Crawford Media Services.

What happens after the assets are nominated:

Once the materials have been nominated in the AMS, we would ship you a hard drive on which you would put the files and ship them to Crawford. Crawford would keep the file you sent as the preservation file and would create a proxy, or access file. The preservation files would be sent to the Library of Congress for long-term preservation as part of the American Archive Collection, and the access files would stream through the AMS. Rights permitting, the files would be made available on the American Archive website after it goes live by March 2015.

Please email me at casey_davis [at] wgbh [dot] org if you are interested or if you have any questions.

This post was written by Casey E. Davis, Project Manager for the AAPB at WGBH.

Happy New Year from the American Archive!

Greetings and Happy New Year! In celebration of the new year, today we are sharing a highlight from the American Archive collection, contributed by WGBH. This six-minute audio clip was taken from an episode of the Children’s Circle daily radio program, which in 1951 was launched and hosted by Nancy Harper. This episode aired on New Year’s Eve in 1952, during which Nancy held a birthday party for the new year.

Nancy Harper served as the producer and writer of Children’s Circle and eventually moved on to become an editor for the textbook companies McGraw-Hill and MacMillan. She later became associate editor of Curator, a journal published by the American Museum of Natural History. She died in 2007 at the age of 91. We appreciate her contributions to public media and are excited to share this audio clip with you today.

Originally recorded on 1/4 inch audio magnetic tape, a format typically used from the 1950s through the 1980s, the program was digitized as part of the first 40,000 hours of American Archive material. It is now being preserved for future generations at the Library of Congress.

This post was written by Casey E. Davis, Project Manager for the AAPB at WGBH.

Opportunity for Stations: BAVC’s Preservation Access Program

We have heard from many stations that are interested in seeking more funding for the digitization of their audio-visual materials. Today, I was made aware of a wonderful opportunity offered by the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), a non-profit organization committed to inspiring social change by empowering media makers to tell diverse stories through art, education and technology. The BAVC Preservation Access Program partners with libraries, museums, arts organizations and artists to preserve and digitize precious works of media art and other cultural artifacts. You can learn more about BAVC at

Through generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, BAVC is offering tools for collection assessment, preservation planning support, and deeply discounted preservation transfer services through an application process.  Qualifying artists, arts organizations, and collections with arts-related content can receive a 30%- 70% subsidy on all services.

1st Round participants include Video Data Bank, VideoFreex, New Orleans Video Access Center, Media Burn Archive, The Poetry Center, Chicago Film Archives, San Francisco Media Archive, Dance Theater of Harlem, Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater, and artists Janis Lipzin, June Watanabe, Wendy Rogers, Nancy Karp, and Alfred Young.

I encourage you to learn about this opportunity submit your applications. The application for the program is due January 15, 2014, and it can be found here:

How to view your digitized materials in the AMS

Today I wanted to share with you the step-by-step procedures for viewing your digitized materials in the Archival Management System (AMS). Visit to log-in. If you are a participating station and do not know your log-in credentials, email me and I can set you up with a login ID and password.

Once you have logged in to the system, you should see the dashboard. This is where you can track the progress of your digitization. Click on the “Records” tab at the top right of the page.


Now you should see a table listing of all of the records you contributed during the Content Inventory Project.


If Crawford Media Services (the digitization vendor) has already started on your station’s digitization, you should see a check box on the bottom of the left side bar that says “Digitized.” Click the small box next to “Digitized,” and you can filter your records to only include those that have a digitized media file attached to the record.

If you do not see the “Digitized” check box, then Crawford has not begun to digitize your materials yet. You can, however, view the records for the assets you nominated for digitization by clicking “Nomination Status” and selecting “Nominated/1st Priority.”

To view an individual record in the AMS, click the blue hyperlinked American Archive GUID, which is a unique identifier assigned to every record. If you are clicking on a record for an asset that has already been digitized, you will see a video/audio player appear above the metadata in the detailed view. And from here, you should be able to view or listen to the media.


Below the video player, click “Open Proxy File.” Here, you will be able to easily pause and navigate forward and backward in the file.


It may take a minute to load, and Google Chrome is the best browser to use when viewing the media. You can also download the proxy file to your computer by right-clicking within the iframe and selecting “Save As.”

If you have any questions or need any assistance navigating the AMS, please do not hesitate to email me at casey_davis [at] wgbh [dot] org.

This post was written by Casey E. Davis, Project Manager for the AAPB at WGBH.