Disseminating Broadcast Archives: Exposing WGBH Materials for Scholarly Use

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Beer, Chris
Michael, Courtney
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The WGBH Media Library and Archives is currently prototyping an online archive of moving image content. Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the project seeks to serve scholars in their efforts to incorporate media into their research and communications activities. WGBH Boston is the single greatest producer of programming for PBS. Our archive holds the master copies of television and radio programs dating back to the 1950s. Not only do we hold final programs, we also hold all of the numerous interviews, stock footage, music, producer's notes, and images that went into the making of the films. As these materials are used and re-used, the relationships between assets become increasingly complex. These relationships, however, are vital information necessary for a researcher to interpret and understand our archive. In addition to the complexity of our collection, our project must consider the needs of traditional, text-oriented scholars and the rising generation of "digital natives" for whom content format is not a boundary. To that end, we are incorporating annotation, citation and other workflow tools to facilitate the use of moving images in scholarly work. We are currently prototyping a Fedora-backed online archive incorporating search, browse, data visualization, and web services. We will present the open source infrastructure behind our web project which includes Fedora, Solr and a PHP front end. Our Fedora content model addresses the specific needs of a moving image archive, allowing for the expression of complex relationships between conceptual and instantiated assets. In addition, it allows us to express the myriad permutations and oddities occurring within broadcast asset relationships. We will share lessons learned and new challenges regarding the representation of archival moving image collections online, the unique cataloging and metadata needs of the online researcher, and barriers to the use of online archives by scholarly researchers. Finally, we will cover technical challenges involving storage and delivery of long form video content, rights management, and user authentication and sustainable business models.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
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