Oregon net will build prototype of proposed American Archive
Offers funding to participating stations
Oregon Public Broadcasting, funded by CPB to develop a working model of the proposed American Archive of public radio and radio materials, is offering a total of $3 million in grants to stations for initial contributions to the digital repository.
For the highly focused pilot project, 90 percent of the material will be about the civil rights movement and10 percent will be recent programming produced for broadcast around Ken Burns' The War in 2007, according to OPB's request for proposals now online. Application deadline: May 1, 5 p.m. Pacific time.
OPB has already scrambled to make a computer simulation of the proposed online archive to show to appropriations aides in Congress. Now it will build a working prototype archive for the project. CPB announced March 26 that OPB is managing the pilot project.
First, in the project's discovery phase, the nonprofit Oregon network will survey stations' existing archives, giiving grants of up to $10,000 to participating stations.
Second, in the preservation phase, OPB will give grants of up to $100,000 for preserving and digitizing stations' old film, audio and video, much of it never seen beyond the local areas.
OPB will work with historians to determine which footage is most valuable and give priority to archiving it, said OPB's national production v.p., Dave Davis.
In its own archives, the Oregon network has a recent interview with a first-hand witness to a Japanese balloon-bomb attack during World War II that killed picnickers in the state, according to Lynne Pollard, OPB web v.p.
Pollard and Davis expect the archive will have some centralized storage of material, but much of it will be distributed among the stations' own archives and accessible through computer networks, possibly using the same COVE technology that PBS is rolling out for stations' and PBS's websites.
Brittle tape, flaking oxides
For older audio tapes, film and early video formats, preserving it in digital form is urgent. Some of OPB's old film and audio tape is brittle and almost unusable, Davis said.
In he process of building the prototype, the project will ask stations "what they've got, what it would take to digitize it," Davis said. "At the end of the prototype, we'll be able to lay out what rights issues we will need to address."
He expects plenty of rights problems. For instance, stations that want to use archived footage for online streaming may have to get subjects to sign new appearance release forms because older release forms were for broadcast rights and not online streaming, Davis speculates. "At the moment, the world is operating on the distinction that these are different sets of rights."
Likewise, a release form might cover only rights for the station's local broadcasts, Pollard said.
OPB will also consult with experts to determine the best technical standards for digital archiving, Pollard said. "We're trying throughout this not to remake the wheel in any way," she said.
Davis expects the materials will be catalogued using the PBCore metadata dictionary developed with CPB funding.
The project has consulted with PBS education execs and WGBH Teachers Domain about metadata that should be collected to make materials usable in schools, said Mark Erstling, senior v.p. for television at CPB, who advocated the American Archive project in his previous post at the Association of Public Television Stations.
Web page posted April 13, revised April 14, 2009
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