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WGBH Launches Extensive Online Library of Vietnam-Related Material

1 May 2010

On April 30th, 2010, the 35th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, the WGBH Media Library and Archives launched the Vietnam Collection,, an online video library drawn exclusively from WGBH’s 1983 landmark series, Vietnam: A Television History.

The Vietnam Collection contains hours of rare archival footage and in-depth interviews with key decision makers and veterans on both sides of the Vietnam conflict. Format issues had made the collection largely inaccessible to the public since 1985 when the University of Massachusetts/Boston acquired the Vietnam: A Television History archive.

All of the original interview material and stills, as well as a significant portion of the stock footage gathered for the Vietnam: A Television History, were painstakingly catalogued and reconstructed, transferred from film to digital betacam and digitised and are now available online. In addition, transcripts of the interviews were encoded in TEI XML and synchronised to the media using SMIL.

"This digital library of Vietnam-related material will grant scholars, academics, researchers, and the general public access to a national historic collection that has never before been available online. It will provide an unparalleled learning opportunity to new generations of students and educators and extend the educational use of primary source materials,” said Karen Cariani, Director of the WGBH Media Library & Archives, who spearheaded the project.

The project is a two-year collaboration between WGBH Media Library and Archives, the University of Massachusetts/Boston (UMB), and the Columbia University Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL). CCMNTL is partnering with faculty in Columbia's Teachers College, Graduate School of Journalism, Department of History, and Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures to integrate the Vietnam Collection into their courses. The goal is to make media material more accessible to students and educators and to create curriculum models based on digital media.

The project will serve as a model for future digital media archives drawing from assets from public television and similar sources. The release of the Vietnam Collection also marks the re-launch of Open Vault, the online home of the WGBH Media Library and Archives With a re-designed interface, enhanced interactive tools, and a new Fedora based repository, the website offers users new and innovative ways to explore, interact with, and comment on the media. “Users can now more fully immerse themselves in the content, creating the feel of a virtual visit to the WGBH Media Library and Archives" said Karen Colbron, Project Manager, Open Vault.

This project was made possible through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.