Database Highlight: American Archive of Public Broadcasting
By Laura Childs, Emerging Technologies Librarian
Introducing the American Archive of Public Broadcasting
Public media captures the collective memory of our communities. On both local and national levels, public radio and television broadcasts have documented the events and people of the 20th and 21st centuries. But film and other A/V formats don’t last forever – materials can deteriorate quickly, and valuable programs are lost if they aren’t preserved in time. The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is on a mission to save these vulnerable records of our nation’s history.
The open access AAPB is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and Boston public media producer GBH. It represents a national effort to preserve at-risk public media before its content is lost to posterity, while providing a central web portal for access to the unique programming that public stations have aired over the past 70+ years. The entire collection is available on location at the Library of Congress and GBH in Boston, and more than half of the items are available to stream from the AAPB Online Reading Room.
What Does the AAPB Include?
The archive consists of over 122,000 items of television and radio programming, contributed by more than 140 public media organizations and archives across the United States (many from New York), that have been digitized for long-term preservation and access. The majority of the collection includes regional and local programs that document American communities from the 1940s through the first decade of the 21st century.
Some examples of content in the archive include:
- News and public affairs programs.
- Local and family history productions.
- Documentaries on a wide array of topics such as education, science, race, sexuality, music, art, literature, dance, poetry, environmental issues, religion, filmmaking, and many more.
Researchers can search the archive by keyword or browse by subject, media type, date range, topic, genre, state, and the producing or contributing organization. There are also Special Collections that feature notable programs from a single source or around a theme, as well as Curated Exhibits that focus on providing depth and context to history using selected recordings from the archive. For instance, check out exhibits on climate change, protesting in America, and the Southern civil rights movement.
Accessing the AAPB
Need help using the resources above or have other questions about library resources? Visit the Library Databases Access Help page. You can also contact a librarian 24/7 through the Ask a Librarian chat service.