NMPBS digitizes its archive with over 8,000 articles

A Zuni elder is photographed by Lee Marmon for the Surviving Columbus series. (Courtesy of NMPBS)

Two years and a half million dollars.

This is what New Mexico PBS needed to digitize its archive.

The Albuquerque-based station worked with the American Archive of Public Broadcasting on the New Mexico Public Media (NMPM) Collection, which is currently available.

Michael Kamins, senior project manager at NMPBS, says the project brings together more than 8,000 articles from public media stations across the state, including full television and radio programs as well as interviews and footage documenting New Mexico’s social, political, artistic and cultural history between 1963 and 2020.

“We were able to preserve this huge treasure that was about to disappear,” says Kamins. “We knew the clock was ticking and we had exceeded the parameters and it would be obsolete if nothing was done.”

As part of the innovative statewide collaboration, five stations, coordinated by New Mexico PBS, worked to digitize programming based on outdated and deteriorating audio and video formats to make historical public media from an underrepresented region accessible. The collection includes programs from Indigenous producers, Emmy- and Peabody-winning documentaries, bilingual and Spanish-language series, Vietnam War coverage, and more.

Thousands of programs in the NMPM collection are now available to stream online for the first time since they first aired. Series include KNME’s ¡Colores!, a weekly newsmagazine about New Mexico’s creative spirit; and KUNM’s National Indian Council on Aging, a collection of public announcements in Navajo, Zuni, Lakota and other indigenous languages; The Peabody Award-winning KNME documentary Surviving Columbus and its raw footage, created by Indigenous filmmakers about the Pueblo people; Penitentiary footage and news reports and “Monuments to Failure: America’s Prison Crisis,” a 1987 study by Tom Wicker of the state of penitentiaries in five states, including New Mexico; KUNM’s “La Chicana,” an exploration of what it means to be a Chicana feminist; and KUNM’s “UNM Strike Documentary” covering six days of protests against the Vietnam War at the University of New Mexico in 1970.

Michael Kamins

According to Kamins, the NMPM collection will be accompanied by a digital exhibit, Witnessing New Mexico: The New Mexico Public Media Digitization Project, authored by NMPM Digitization Project grantees David P. Saiz and Rachel Snow.

“Through her extensive knowledge of the collection material, the multimedia StoryMap provides an insightful window into New Mexico’s past and present, with a particular focus on how the state’s communities have resisted discrimination and exclusion,” says Kamins.

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of, or are curious about, a film made in the state, email [email protected] Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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