WGBH Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Grant to Support Preservation of Historic Public Broadcasting Materials

Helping to preserve public media history, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded WGBH a $750,000 Infrastructure and Capacity-Building Challenge Grant to support the work of the WGBH Media Library and Archives (MLA). Today’s announcement will allow MLA to develop a digital asset management system, improve Open Vault, our public access website, and support the digitization of 83,000 WGBH-produced audiovisual recordings that are currently stored on obsolete and deteriorating media formats.

The grant was one of 218 grants announced yesterday by NEH, totaling $43.1 million. These are the first awards made under NEH’s new Infrastructure and Capacity-Building Challenge Grant program. Totaling $13 million, these grants will support infrastructure projects at 29 U.S. cultural institutions in 20 states and the District of Columbia, including the work of the MLA.

“There is a rich history that has been chronicled over the years by public media. Yet, as the years go by, this record of our nation’s news, culture, science and more becomes increasingly more vulnerable,” said Karen Cariani, the David O. Ives Executive Director of WGBH’s Media Library and Archives. “This grant will help our continued pursuit of preservation, ensuring this content remains a rich historical resource for researchers, academics, journalists and the public.”

As America’s preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of fully one-third of PBS’ prime-time lineup, WGBH has been on the front lines of history for nearly seven decades. WGBH productions – from local radio and television to nationally distributed programming – have documented our collective cultural heritage in moving images and sound. Programs to be preserved as part of this grant include Save the Planet with Meryl Streep, The Machine that Changed the World, Julia Child and Company, All Our Children hosted by Bill Moyers as well as American Experience, NOVA, FRONTLINE and many more.

In 1979, WGBH became the first public broadcasting station to develop an archive, staffed by professional archivists. For more than 35 years, MLA staff have preserved, cataloged, and provided access to materials produced by WGBH. The group currently manages and preserves nearly 1 million audio, video, film, and digital assets dating back to 1947.

The National Endowment for the Humanities and WGBH together: Exploring the human endeavor

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur, Pinkalicious & Peterrific, and more than a dozen other primetime, lifestyle and children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH TV productions focusing on the region’s diverse community include Greater Boston, Basic Black and High School Quiz Show. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB Classical Radio Boston; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. WGBH also is a major source of programs for public radio (among them, PRI’s The World®), a leader in educational multimedia (including PBS LearningMedia™, providing the nation’s educators with free, curriculum-based digital content), and a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired audiences. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at wgbh.org.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

We’re moving! 15,000 boxes, that is!

 

Ever wonder what 15,000 boxes looks like? It’s likely that you haven’t, but if you check out the video below, you’ll find out!

The WGBH Media Library and Archives (MLA) just began the process of moving our off-site storage to a new location. Our off-site storage unit currently stores 15,000 boxes, or 400,000 items, within 8,000 square feet. While our WGBH vault stores our master-level programs and original materials, the archival records held in our off-site storage include all of our non-master, or circulating films and tapes, as well as over 60 years of administrative and legal records. Each box needs to be removed from its shelf; transported from the current location (shown in the video above) to the new location; and then placed in the exact same order as they were in the original location. Maintaining the original order allows our archivists to continue to record and monitor the exact location of each item, ensuring that we maintain efficient circulation of these materials for our producers, researchers, and other staff.

Peter Higgins, Archives Manager, with assistance from Rebecca “Becky” Philio, Archivist, is leading this important effort to protect WGBH’s archival records and materials and securely transfer them to the new location. The move will be completed within the next several weeks, and we’ll look forward to showing you the “after” photos and videos!

 

To be continued…

Please Support Public Media: It’s our History

The WGBH Media Library and Archives is dependent on a strong public media system to continue to provide safe keeping and access to historic programming.

However, the proposed budget cut to eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting puts public media at risk. This federal investment in public media is the stabilizing core that makes it possible to create educational programs, serve as a trusted source of in-depth and informative journalism, and share the vital insights of science, history, and culture — all free to the public. And if stations and programming are at risk, the archive and access to this history is also at risk.

Federal funding for public broadcasting represents less than 1/100th of one percent of the federal budget, while PBS is watched by 82 percent of U.S. households. It’s one of America’s best investments, costing only $1.35 per citizen each year. That’s right: $1.35. A true bargain!

It is time to speak up. More than ever, your voice can make a difference. If you would like to show your support for this important issue, please visit www.ProtectMyPublicMedia.org to both sign a petition to support continued funding and to find information about the ways public media serves our communities. Let your friends and family know how important public media is to you and watch for updates with additional information on how you can help.

Many thanks from all of us at the WGBH Media Library and Archives.

Karen Cariani
Senior Director, WGBH Media Library and Archives