White Paper for Broadcasting Audiovisual Data: Using linked data and local authority aggregators to enhance discoverability for broadcasting collections

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Broadcasting Audiovisual Data (BA/VD) is an initiative to enhance discoverability of archival radio collections using a linked open data framework to encourage the use of audiovisual collections inside and outside the academy. A partnership between MITH and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the project is an expansion of the previous NEH-funded project Unlocking the Airwaves. While Airwaves was centered on virtually reuniting one set of geographically separated collections, the National Association of Educational Broadcasters' (NAEB) paper and media collections, Broadcasting A/V Data connects the linked NAEB collections to three additional complementary collections of educational radio, community radio, and public radio history. These include The National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) collections at UMD Libraries; the Wisconsin Public Radio (WHA) collections at University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries; and the WLB/KUOM collections at University of Minnesota Libraries.

Educational and public broadcasting collections are a window into the history of the American experience. These collections are not just about unique content, they’re also about unique people and organizations. BA/VD uses people and organizations as connective tissue between siloed collections of historic educational radio to promote new discoveries not just about the history of broadcasting, but about the history of how Americans shared their stories with each other during some of our nation’s most culturally tumultuous decades.

This project represents a substantial shift from thinking about collections through a content-centric lens to a network-centric lens. Now, instead of viewing the collections themselves as snapshots of a particular historical moment or trend, we can view them as products of networked knowledge flows governed by institutional structures and individual whimsy. The project created new access points to these four collections across Wikidata, the Social Networks and Archival Context Cooperative (SNAC) website, and Wikipedia, which help draw attention to and contextualize these collections for scholars, educators, journalists, and the general public. The project website includes a series of new exhibits curated by leading scholars in the field of broadcasting history, as well as a network visualization and a suite of simple tutorial videos and clear documentation for other stewards of cultural history who wish to implement our methods and workflows.