AAPB to work with Brandeis University’s Lab for Linguistics and Computation to use artificial intelligence to enhance accessibility and discoverability of content

BOSTON (September 10, 2019) – WGBH announced today The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s renewed support for WGBH with a two-year, $750,000 grant, which will enhance usability of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB). The AAPB is a collaboration between WGBH and the Library of Congress that aims to digitize and preserve thousands of hours of broadcasts and previously inaccessible programs from the more than 60-year legacy of public radio and public television.

Over the next two years, the grant will support a two-pronged effort to make the AAPB an even more valuable resource for researchers, educators, academics and the public. The AAPB will work with Brandeis University’s Lab for Linguistics and Computation, which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to develop open-source tools and workflows, to capture detailed metadata from AAPB radio and television programs. This metadata, descriptive information about the people, places, dates and conversations in the archive, is a powerful way to improve access and discoverability of content.

“The media content preserved by the AAPB over the years is a cultural treasure, one that chronicles much of our national heritage,” said James Pustejovsky, Brandeis’ TJX Feldberg Professor of Computer Science. “My colleagues and I look forward to continuing our work with AAPB archivists, using artificial intelligence and computer science tools to improve metadata and discoverability, and maximizing the accessibility of this content.”

The grant from The Mellon Foundation also designates funds for increased outreach efforts and continued relationship-building with public media stations and other organizations across the country. AAPB staff will identify underserved and underrepresented regions and guide their public media stations through the process of securing grant funding for digitization. AAPB will continue proactive outreach to scholars and educators, and support the advisory committees established by the Mellon Foundation’s previous grant. These relationships will help improve the diversity and representation in the AAPB’s content and improve access and usage of this vast resource.

“Making the AAPB an approachable, accessible and living resource is a cornerstone of our mission,” said Karen Cariani, the David O. Ives Executive Director of the WGBH Media Library and Archives. “We’re grateful to The Mellon Foundation for supporting these key steps in improving searchability, use and diversification of AAPB content.”

This two-year grant follows The Mellon Foundation’s 2017 $1 million grant to WGBH which funded improvements to the AAPB’s intake capacity, collaborative initiatives and support systems for contributing stations.

Now in its sixth year of service, the AAPB has preserved for posterity over 90,000 digitized and born-digital audio and video materials. Among the collections preserved are more than 14,000 episodes of the PBS NewsHour Collection, dating back to 1975; more than 1,300 programs and documentaries from National Educational Television, the predecessor to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS); full “gavel-to-gavel” coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings; raw, unedited interviews from the landmark documentary Eyes on the Prize; raw, unedited interviews with eyewitnesses and historians recorded for American Experience documentaries including Stonewall Uprising, The Murder of Emmett Till, Freedom Riders, 1964, The Abolitionists and many others. The AAPB also works with scholars to publish curated exhibits and essays that provide historical and cultural context to the Archive’s content.


About WGBH
WGBH 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 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 digital content and programs for public radio through PRI/PRX, including The World and Innovation Hub; a leader in educational multimedia with PBS LearningMedia™ providing the nation’s educators with free, curriculum-based digital content; and a pioneer in 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 Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

About the American Archive of Public Broadcasting
The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the WGBH Educational Foundation to coordinate a national effort to preserve at-risk public media before its content is lost to posterity and provide a central web portal for access to the unique programming that public stations have aired over the past 60 years. Since 2013, the AAPB has preserved approximately 90,000 historic radio and television programs and related materials, and provided metadata and links to an additional 10,000 hosted on other digital archives websites. More than 120 public media organizations and producers have contributed to this effort. The entire collection is available on location at WGBH and the Library of Congress, and more than 48,000 programs are available online at americanarchive.org.