As part of the NDIIPP Grant, PBS is pleased to announce the completion of a comprehensive inventory of its media. Approximately 157,000 items have been inventoried since the inventory began in 2006. A number of tapes that had been previously thought missing, including episodes of Austin City Limits, Mystery! and Firing Line were found during the inventory and now have been located.
With a collection that spans over thirty years of broadcast television, PBS holds a wide variety of formats including 2” Quad, 1”, Betacam SP, ¾” Umatic, DATs, DigiBeta, Betacam, D2, D3 and D5s. In addition to these, PBS also holds 16mm film from the National Education Television (NET) Collection.
A comprehensive inventory had not been conducted at PBS in over a decade, it was deemed crucial to perform a complete inventory of its collection before beginning an At-Risk Inventory. PBS, WGBH in Boston and WNET in New York are all conducting digital inventories of material that is “At Risk” of loss. Due to the increasing rapidness of format obsolescence in digital formats, these inventories will give the stations and PBS as well as the Library of Congress a better assessment of how many early digital tape formats, such as D2, D3 and D5s are at-risk.
There were two occurrences at PBS during the Inventory time-frame, which made the inventory more complex. The first was PBS’ physical move from its old location at Braddock Place to two separate locations. The inventory process helped to guarantee that no tape was lost during the move. The second involved PBS converting from its older program informational media library database that had been relied upon for several decades to BroadView, a database meant to streamline PBS’ operations. Due to the database conversion, the majority of the NDIIPP inventory was conducted using a Microsoft Access database with data drawn from the older media library database. Efforts are currently underway to reconcile the Access database with BroadView so that the larger PBS system can benefit from the inventory.
An undertaking of this size is never possible without generous help from others. Glenn Clatworthy, Bea Morse, Cindy Jackson, Gwen Wood, Wendy Allen, Kellen Alexander and Patricia Green gave generously of their time and expertise.
Questions regarding the inventory at PBS should be addressed to Irene E. Taylor, Project Archivist at i e t a y l o r @ p b s . o r g or (703) 739-8640 or Bea Morse at b m o r s e @ p b s . o r g or (703) 739-5767.