Thanks to everyone who attended our webinar last Wednesday for potential hosts for the AAPB NDSR program! The slides for the webinar are now available here, and the full webinar can be viewed here.
We got a lot of great questions during the webinar, so if you don’t have time to view the whole thing, we’ve summarized the Q&A below.
Q: Who picks the local (or non-local) mentors? The hosts or AAPB?
A: We will be working with our Advisory Board to match each member up with a resident. As far as the local mentors go, we will help identify them, but if the host already has a relationship with a local archivist they think would be a good mentor, we’ll definitely take that into account and welcome the suggestion. Otherwise, we will reach out to people who are our contacts in the area that we know are interested in the project.
Q: Is the resident responsible for finding their own housing?
A: Yes, the resident is responsible for this, though we will ask if the host organizations are able to offer guidance and advice about good ways to look for housing in the area or what might be good locations.
Q: Is the American Archive of Public Broadcasting association just a theme, or is there any obligation for the projects to the AAPB?
A: The hosts will not have an obligation to the AAPB; anyone in the public broadcasting sphere can apply to be a host, with no AAPB affiliation required — though, if through the course of the project, the host becomes interested in adding their metadata records or content to the AAPB to be preserved through the Library of Congress and made available for research purposes, we’ll definitely be happy to work with the host to make that happen! The residents, however, will be doing some additional work for the program as part of the AAPB initiative.
Q: Where is the actual application?
A: It can be found on the site’s Host Applications page.
Q: Do the projects have to involve public media?
A: While the hosts don’t necessarily need to be AAPB participating organizations, the project overall is public media-based. The definition of public media can be a little bit flexible, but the projects must involve it.
Q: What level of technical and/or managerial expertise will the residents have?
A: This may vary. The residents will all have graduated from a master’s program within the past two years of joining the AAPB NDSR, so they will be relatively new professionals in the field of archiving and preservation – and not all of them will necessarily have an archiving and preservation Master’s degree; some of them may come from related fields such as computer science or television production. Even those who do have an archives-related degree may also have an additional Master’s degree. Some of them may have managerial or supervisory experience prior to entering grad school, and we will provide a technical boot camp (Immersion Week) to make sure everyone starts out with a solid knowledge base. They’ll also be receiving regular advice from experienced professionals through the mentorships. However, many of them will be new professionals, and will be learning as they go.
Q: Will the residents come from a variety of institutions around the country?
A: Yes, we hope so. The resident must have graduated from a Master’s program within the past two years, and we are requiring them to be within the United States, but everyone who fits those criteria is welcome to apply.
Q: How many offsite events will the resident be required to attend?
A: We’ll be sending them to at least two conferences over the course of the residency and at least one conference after the end of the residency, so those will be several-day events that they will be traveling to with funding from the AAPB NDSR. They probably will also be attending a webinar or other digital event about every other week; those will be more frequent towards the beginning of the residency when we’re doing more education and training to make sure everyone is on the same page with their projects and responsibilities, and towards the end of the residency we expect they will be spending more time focusing on completing their projects and the time they spend attending outside events will tail off. We’re going to try to get a schedule out very early for the broad shape of offsite conferences, and we will also be sending out regular monthly schedules outlining any events that the resident will be required to attend.
Q: What experience does the staff mentor have to have?
A: The staff mentor should ideally be someone who has some experience in supervising either an intern or a fellow or a junior staff member, and someone who’s comfortable enough with the organization to be able to provide guidance to the resident when they get there. They should be a full-time staff member, to ensure that they have enough authority within the institution to provide guidance for the resident. Otherwise, it’s up to the host organization to determine who would be the best person to supervise that particular project.
Q: Is this kind of an arranged marriage, in which neither party meets before being assigned?
A: The parties probably won’t meet in person before selection. The hosts will see applications, and most host organizations have also wanted to hold an interview phone call with the residents before making a final selection. What all the previous NDSR programs have done is require the residents to make some kind of video in addition to filling out the application, to introduce themselves and their interests and why they’re interested in the program. We’re still figuring out the logistics, but we will probably make some initial selections of strong candidates and send the hosts the applications and the videos to make selections as to who they feel would be the best fit for the organization. The residents will also have an opportunity to prioritize host organizations, and the hosts will see those prioritizations as well. We’ll do our best to ensure that the host and the resident are able to receive a good match.
Q: Does the host organization provide benefits for the archivist?
A: Most likely, the AAPB NDSR program will be funding benefits for the archivists. Past NDSR programs have not provided benefits, and we haven’t finalized the logistics yet, but most likely what will happen is that WGBH will distribute funds to the host organization for both their salaries and for benefits. Whatever happens, the host organization will definitely not be on the hook for any of those funds. ETA: As of 9/28, the AAPB NDSR has officially confirmed that hosts will hire the residents as full-time contract employees, and invoice WGBH for the cost of salary and benefits.
Q: How many residents and hosts will be selected?
A: There will be eight residents and eight hosts. ETA: As of 9/28, in order to have enough funding to provide benefits for the residents, that number is dropping down to seven residents and seven hosts.
Q: Approximately how many hours a week will we be estimating their work week to entail on average?
A: It will be a forty-hour work week, but only about eighty percent of their time will be spent on the host project — so they might spend the equivalent of one day a week attending an event, meeting with their advisers, pursuing other research, or working on one of the projects that they’ll be responsible for as part of the AAPB. They’ll really be working approximately 32 hours a week for the host institution. This would vary week to week depending on what projects and events may be going on at any given time.
Q: How many hours a week would the host need to dedicate to the resident?
A: What we say in the application is that we expect the host mentors to plan to dedicate two hours a week, but that’s probably not going to be the case every week. We’re requesting that the hosts meet with the residents every other week, spend some time reviewing deliverables, and attend NDSR events. Some weeks this workload might add up to more, some weeks it might be less, but we’re estimating two hours a week on average.
Q: We would like to have residents at our station work with volunteers and staff, is that all right?
A: Yes, that would be great. We encourage stations to make use of the residents’ knowledge and spread that around to get as many people trained as possible.
Q: Would the program apply to a station that has not yet begun to digitize?
A: Yes, absolutely. The project does not have to focus on digitization – if your station is creating, receiving or airing digital content, those need to be managed, and working on that is a really good project for a resident. If you want to focus on digitization, you could have the resident design and manage the process of digitization. There are many different opportunities to design a project.
Q: Are there any types of projects that would put you towards the top of the desirable list?
A: We’re looking for interesting projects that would give the residents an opportunity to learn and try a lot of skills. Strong projects will probably involve some component of planning, some component of on-the-ground work that gives them a chance of hands-on experience, and a combination of different kinds of skills for them to have a chance to learn. Without knowing what the needs and requirements of the organization are, it’s hard to say what the best kind of project would be, but if you want to reach out to us, we’ll be happy to talk about what would be helpful to your organization.
Q: Could a project involve both organizing born-digital materials and digitizing archival content?
A: Absolutely. We’re definitely interested in projects that contain multiple components, or plans for the residency that contain multiple projects.
Q: What were the four projects undertaken at WGBH as part of NDSR Boston, one of the previous iterations of the NDSR program?
A: The first part of the project involved looking at the ways that WGBH received digital files from producers, and mapping out the path that those files took to end up in long-term storage, mapping out problem points and making a plan for moving forward for better project management and streamlining the flow of those files. The second project involved capturing metadata about and re-ingesting a lot of audiovisual digital material that was sent out from WGBH’s internal storage to the AAPB and then back to WGBH. The third project, which happened simultaneously, involved investigating a series of file failures that we had while pulling that data out of storage. The last project involved creating a webinar, based on the work done in the rest of the project, to instruct public media professionals on basic digital preservation principles, available online here.
Q: Could a project involve having a resident transcribe documentaries that weren’t required to be closed captioned when they originally aired?
A: That could be a part of a project, but we would definitely not want that to be the whole project, and we’d want whatever that project was to involve a broader design capacity – for example, looking at how to capture metadata for those transcripts and how to link them to the documentaries, or planning out how to make them online and accessible. Alternately, the resident could oversee an intern to do the manual transcription, while the resident focused on the bigger picture and higher-level work.
Q: Will the resident have knowledge that can help inform purchase of equipment and storage servers?
A: Yes. We’ll make sure that the resident has both the basic information about best practices for digital preservation, and the skills and contacts they’ll need to look into further information. Doing the work and research to help inform that purchase, testing and design of equipment and storage servers would be a great thing for a resident to work on.
Q: If we’re trying to get our archival programming up on a web player, could the resident help map out that project and begin to facilitate it?
A: Any project that involves helping to map out a digital project and then starting to do it would be a really strong one for applying for this program. We like combinations of planning out a thing, and then doing a thing.
Q: What are some mistakes you’ve made and witnessed or learned from in NDSR projects?
A: Organizations that planned ambitiously in terms of their project and timeline have sometimes had challenges during the period of the residency. Sometimes when it turned out that the requirements for the resident to complete their project couldn’t be completed within the timeline of the residency, the resident had difficulty continuing to do productive work. We encourage planning realistically in terms of timeline, and also building in flexibility so that if one component doesn’t come in, the resident can still continue to work on a different part of the project.
Q: In the application process, could a station outline several potential projects to be whittled down?
A: That’s an interesting question. We’d recommend that you email us so we can talk about it – we might want to whittle down the projects first and give feedback over email.
Q: Is it OK to have the resident supervise the efforts of an intern? For example, someone dedicated to scanning while the resident works on higher level activities?
A: Yes, it would be great for the resident to have an opportunity to gain more supervisory experience over the course of the residency.
Q: Is WGBH eligible to host an AAPB resident?
A: No, we won’t be hosting a resident ourselves. We’re going to have our hands full managing residents around the country!