As part of CAAM’s role in bringing Asian American stories to the public, we are thrilled to be a part of preserving Asian American films for future generations to use.
CAAM received funding to host two American Archive of Public Broadcasting fellows. The fellows will help to preserve early Asian American documentaries and series that aired on PBS. The filmmakers have graciously given CAAM permission to let us make these materials accessible for research use and to be archived at the Library of Congress.
We are proud to introduce Tanya Yule, CAAM and BAVC’s first Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellow (PBPF), of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. The AAPB is a partnership through WGBH in Boston and the Library of Congress. Yule is a student at San Jose State University, where she is receiving a Masters in Library and Information Science. She will be digitizing programs such as the Silk Screen (1982-1987) series on PBS. CAAM will receive a new fellow this summer.
Can you tell us about your background?
I moved from San Diego to San Francisco in 2004 to attend the San Francisco Art Institute, where I received my B.F.A. in photography; whenever I find the time I try to slip into the darkroom and work. For the better part of the last decade I was a Program Director at a nonprofit music school, where I recently left to begin an internship at the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University. I really enjoy music, films, art, history, and being part of creative communities.
What interested you in library sciences and archiving?
In 2016 I began my Masters in Library and Information Science at San Jose State University with a focus on photography preservation. This was initially a means of utilizing my background in historic photography practices as a way to protect and preserve images for future generations. However, through my work at the Hoover, I began to fall in love with working in all areas of archives, not just with photographs, and have had the fortunate experience to process incredible collections that range from the Russian Revolution to the Vietnam War, each providing a unique glimpse of someones life that I get to describe, organize, and preserve for future generations.
What drew you to this particular preservation fellowship?
When the fellowship was posted, I had a “this was made for me” moment and applied instantly. I have wanted to work with A/V media and no better way than to work with the American Archive of Public Broadcasting and a really great nonprofit such as CAAM in order to preserve and make accessible these important broadcast assets. The icing on the cake for me is the ability to not only work with Bay Area Video Coalition on this project, but to also be able to watch all of the awesome programs while doing it.
What does it mean for a film to be “at risk” and how will this project help?
As media ages it can deteriorate, just like paper, CDs, and even born-digital records. However, there are more types of media that are at high-risks than others. Depending on the type of magnetic media (archivist speak for cassette, cartridge, and even most reel to reel formats) there is a dooms day clock set for longevity of the material. By creating digital masters of certain high-risk objects, it can provide some relief of knowing that there is a digital version being preserved in multiple locations (in this case with the Library of Congress), it will also allow greater access to the community to see and view the information that has long been forgotten, without risking more handling in order to view it.
However, as having my archivist hat on, I should state digitizing isn’t a preserving, it is just another form of supporting the accessibility and longevity of the material.
Which films are a part of the fellowship that you’re working on digitizing?
The fellowship is based on preserving public broadcasting media, so the assets that I am working on come from many early PBS broadcasts such as Silk Screen, and items that were aired on American Experience, Frontline, and Independent Lens. There are also documentaries that range in subject matter and geography. Just from the titles alone I am really excited about the project and being able to watch all of these amazing programs.
Can you tell us what will happen to these films once they are digitized?
Once the films are digitized I will be sending hard-drives with master versions to the Library of Congress for long-term preservation and I will also be sending the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) access (small copies) for them to add to their searchable online special collections page, which will be accessible for anyone to view and search. But one of the best parts is CAAM will also receive preservation masters as well as access versions as well.
Can you share one or two things you’re most excited about with this fellowship?
If it wasn’t clear already, I am so excited and feel truly honored to be able to participate in preserving such important media and information for future generations to see. These stories can live on outside of a shelf in a room, and that is an incredible gift to everyone. Next, I am really happy to be able to grow my skill base as an archivist and be able to incorporate what I have learned from this project and from all of my mentors at CAAM, AAPB, BAVC, and SJSU and take this elsewhere to do more and more with.
To learn more about the AAPB and the project checkout their website. Follow #AAPBPF to see what all the fellows are up to.