What is the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB)?

The AAPB is an initiative to digitally preserve and make accessible public broadcasting radio and television programming, ensuring its collection, management, preservation, and access. In August 2013, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting selected WGBH and the Library of Congress as the permanent stewards of the AAPB collection. To date, almost 40,000 hours of historic public broadcasting radio and television content has been digitized and preserved. The AAPB Online Reading Room provides online access to some of the content that has been digitized by the AAPB. The entire AAPB collection, consisting of 68,000 items (40,000 hours) is available for research on location at WGBH and the Library of Congress. The AAPB also maintains metadata records documenting the existence of 2.5 million assets at public broadcasting organizations, most of which have not been digitized.

What is available on the AAPB website?

The AAPB website provides three layers of searching and browsing:

  • Users can access the AAPB Online Reading Room, which provides online access to some of the digitized collection for private research, educational and informational purposes.
  • Users can search metadata records for all 40,000 hours of digitized content, including content that is available in the Online Reading Room and content that is only available for viewing and listening on location at WGBH and the Library of Congress.
  • Users can search search and browse the 2.5 million metadata records that document public radio and television assets existing at more than 120 public media stations and archives across the country. Most of these assets have not been digitized.

The AAPB has also curated exhibits that feature content on topics of historical significance.

I'm interested in accessing the entire digitized collection at WGBH or the Library of Congress, and I want to begin my search before traveling to one of the research locations. How can I tell if something was digitized in the AAPB?

After you conduct a search on the AAPB website, click the "All Digitized" link below the Access filter on the left side of the page. This will display records for all 40,000 hours of digitized content.

I want to conduct research using the entire AAPB collection. How can I do so?

The entire AAPB collection, consisting of 68,000 items (40,000 hours), is available for research at WGBH in Boston and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. More information about on-location research policies and scheduling an appointment is available here.

Will more content be available in the Online Reading Room than what is available now?

AAPB staff are continuing to review the digitized content and add more material to the Online Reading Room. If you find something that is digitized but not available in the Online Reading Room, and you would like access to it, contact us and we will try to prioritize the review of this content.

Can I access collection material that is not available in the Online Reading Room?

The entire collection is not available in the Online Reading Room due to rights and other legal restrictions; however, the entire collection is available on location at WGBH and the Library of Congress. In addition, you may request limited remote research access to materials that are not available in the Online Reading Room provided that such access is only for bona fide research and scholarly purposes. To request limited research access, please contact us at aapb_notifications@wgbh.org. Please be aware that while AAPB staff will attempt to respond to your request(s) within three (3) business days, it may take longer, and that not all AAPB materials are eligible for Limited Research Access. If your request(s) are approved, you will receive an email response providing unique URL(s) and password(s) to the content you have requested.

Since it's public media, isn't it in the public domain?

No. Content in the AAPB may be protected by U.S. copyright law and its use may be subject to the permission of the copyright owner, content creators, performers, unions, or other third parties. Privacy and publicity rights may also apply. The nature of content in the AAPB often makes it difficult to determine the content’s copyright status. AAPB endeavors when possible to provide accurate factual information about copyright owners and related matters in catalog records, finding aids, and other texts that accompany collections or individual items that may assist patrons in making necessary legal determinations.

What is the Online Reading Room?

The AAPB Online Reading Room provides accesss to digitized video and audio archival materials in the collection for private research, educational, and informational purposes. Patron uses will be restricted to those permitted under copyright law.

If I would like to license or reuse content in the archive, whom do I contact?

It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy all copyright and other use restrictions before using content in the AAPB. If you have selected an item or items that you want to license for reuse, you should contact the contributing organization that is listed in the metadata record. All organizations have a website URL provided in their organizations' page.

If I found an item on the AAPB website that I would like to view/listen to that wasn't digitized, how can I gain access to it?

If the item you found was not digitized, you can contact the contributing organization listed in the metadata record to find out if and how it can be accessed.

Who is eligible to contribute to the AAPB collection?

Public TV or radio stations (or joint licensees); national public media organizations; producers for public media (e.g. PRI, ITVS); and repositories holding public media content are all eligible to contribute to the AAPB collection.

How can my organization get involved in the AAPB?

AAPB Project Staff are currently working on a collection development policy to guide the growth of the collection and the workflows to add new metadata records to the catalog and accept new digital files for preservation and access. In the next few months we'll have a solid plan for growing the archive beyond the first 40,000 hours.

As a first step, we would suggest creating an inventory of your collection, if you haven't done so already, so that you can share your metadata records with the AAPB. If you're interested in templates for inventorying your collection, contact AAPB Project Staff at aapb_notifications@wgbh.org.

I work at a participating organization. How can my station access our digital files and metadata records?

Participating organizations can use the Archival Management System (AMS), to view their records and digitized proxy files. We have created guides for navigating the AMS and obtaining copies of your organization's improved metadata.