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Can you tell me how to archive 50 years of Sesame Street?

Michael Balderston finds out how thousands of hours of the iconic show are being saved for posterity

Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch and the rest of the Muppets have lived on Sesame Street for the past 50 years, teaching children—and even some adults—valuable lessons on things like spelling, maths and social and cultural issues. However, unlike the memorable title song asks, you can’t actually get to Sesame Street. But if you head to Boston or Washington, DC, you can find these classic episodes readily available.

As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit education workshop behind Sesame Street, has donated nearly 4,500 digital copies of episodes from its run, from its premiere in 1969 to its most recent episodes, to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the WGBH Educational Foundation.

Though the episodes have already been digitised, the archiving of these episodes by the AAPB in order that they will be around for generations to come is a diligent process.

According to Rachel Curtis, the digital project specialist at the Library of Congress, and project coordinator for the AAPB, after Sesame Workshop digitises the episodes in-house, they send them to her via hard drives in batches covering 10 seasons from the show each. The files from the most recent seasons are in HD, with earlier episodes in SD.

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