Over the years, the American people have made a huge investment in public media, calculated at more than $10 billion. The programs are critical pieces of regional history that together reflect the story of America in modern times. But much of the record of public radio and television has been lost. Many programs were not recorded. Those that were sometimes got thrown out during station growing pains. What is left is still on old audio and video tapes in storage rooms across the country, largely undigitized, and at risk of being totally lost.
With this in mind The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), currently operating under the auspices of the Library of Congress and WGBH, emerged from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB) in 2009 with the goal to identify, preserve, and make accessible the historical record of public media across the United States. The initial efforts of the AAPB were to inventory over 2.5 million items from over 100 public media stations across the country, many of which had never been inventoried before. With the 2.5 million items inventoried in the system, selections could be made for digitization, and stations could now search not only their own collections, but across the public media ecosystem. In 2012/2013, AVP partnered with the AAPB team to create an open-source Archival Management System (AMS) to host and manage the metadata created in the initial inventory, manage the digitization workflow and effort, ingest and manage the metadata generated in the digitization process, and provide access to the digitized access copies.
The AMS served the AAPB well for several years and today the public can access the thousands of hours of content on the AAPB website that resulted from the use of the AMS system to manage the inventory, selection, and digitization process.
It was also the case that over the years, with the availability of new technologies, the maturation of the AAPB, and the transition from CPB to WGBH and the Library of Congress, that needs changed and evolved. In 2018, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the AAPB engaged AVP again to build the AMS 2.0 with a new set of requirements and utilizing Samvera technology stack. AVP and WGBH worked as a tightly integrated and highly collaborative team, with guidance from the Avalon development team, in 2018/2019 to develop the AMS 2.0. The new system, built in compliance with the PBCore metadata schema, will improve the AAPB’s ability to acquire additional collections and manage the metadata for the more than 2.5 million records in the AAPB’s collection. The system will also provide participating public broadcasting stations and archives across the country a platform to search, manage, and access their own collections. This has been accomplished by building off of the Hyrax Ruby on Rails application as a framework, including modules for data mapping, data modeling, and batch imports of large datasets. Important to the foundation of the project, much of the software development work is open-source and shared with other organizations working in digital media preservation within the Samvera community and beyond. AAPB currently holds 50,000 hours of broadcasts and previously inaccessible programs from public radio and public television’s more than 70-year legacy.