Evelyn Taylor, Kaela Casey, and Laura Worden 2014-02-10 17:42:12
Since its inception, the Broome Library’s University Archives and the digital Institutional Repository (IR) at the California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) have been two separate entities working independently of each other to develop, manage, and provide access to their collections. By taking steps to better integrate the archival and digital collections, CSUCI has created a more cohesive and straightforward discovery and research experience for users. Roadblocks to Access Although there was some overlap in content, both the University Archives and the IR maintained unique materials and patrons accessed information separately from each entity. The majority of the items were initially organized and physically preserved for researcher use, but expanded information and access to the documents was inconveniently limited to on-site research only. Through interviews with students who regularly utilized the archives, the archivist concluded that most were not aware of the digital materials, and those who were aware were reluctant to use the IR. The roadblocks that the students encountered when using the IR included poor organization of materials, improperly scanned items, the inclusion of items with little research value, and no controlled vocabulary. These issues created an uninviting layout and a clunky search function that often returned incomplete or inaccurate results. While print collections enjoyed regular use by faculty and students, knowledge and utilization of the resources available through the IR were almost nonexistent throughout the campus. And, further, a lack of archival personnel, equipment, and time presented the lone university archivist with a tough choice between processing all paper materials for traditional access or digitizing a select number with limited arrangement and preservation. Implementing New Strategies In early 2012, a joint evaluation of the CSUCI University Archives and the digital IR conducted by the university archivist, cataloging librarian, and digital resources specialist led to the identification of areas of opportunity and collaboration and the creation of strategies that could enhance, promote, and increase access to both collections. The evaluators came together to share knowledge, ideas, and manpower, intent on solving the access problems by developing a forward-thinking, strategic vision to join the archival and digital collections—not only on the library website but also in researchers’ minds. They determined that this could be achieved by working together to reorganize the IR, properly digitize materials that researchers would want to use, and promote and publicize both the archive and the IR collections by visually connecting the two on the various collection webpages. And so the work began. The digital resources specialist reorganized the IR to make it more user friendly and analogous to the organization of the archival collections. The staff created workflows and checklists to ensure the complete digitization of collections as well as new protocols to address the selection of items for digitization. The university archivist then selected specific archival materials to digitize, based on anticipated demand and informational content. With both the digital and archival staff trained on digitization standards and procedures, the university archivist and digital resources specialist collaboratively digitized documents, photographs, slides, and ephemera, while the cataloging librarian instituted a controlled vocabulary for each digitized collection. The team then selected visually appealing images for each IR collection homepage and collaborated on short collection descriptions to provide context to each digital collection. For digital collections with physical materials, links from IR descriptions to the collection webpages were supplied to seamlessly connect the materials. This strategic workflow allowed for the continuous digitization and description of archival materials, which Led to the addition of more than three hundred records to the IR in less than six months. Access Points After developing an effective method for adding collections to the IR, the team took measures to ensure additional online access points to the newly digitized materials. The cataloging librarian created OCLC records for each collection, making them discoverable and accessible through WorldCat and the library’s OPAC. The team produced individual webpages for the collections’ descriptions, which included links to the digital content in the IR, archival finding guides, and other useful information about the subject. All were crafted to offer details about the collections in a visually appealing and succinct manner. Finally, the staff redesigned the library’s “Collections” website to be a single point of access for both digital and print collections, drawing attention to its “Featured Collections” with prominent icons at the top of the page (see image). The finished product emerged as an illustrative and informative website that successfully united the offerings of both the University Archives and IR. Outcomes The outcomes of this collaborative project have been significant (see graph on page 14). The University Archives and IR now function as one unit that facilitates the discovery and utilization of archival materials through the library’s Online Public Access Catalog, website, and IR. Researchers have spoken positively about the collaboration between the University Archives and IR, and the utilization of digital and physical archival collections across campus has increased significantly. The collaboration of library, archives, and digital resources was successful in creating an effective working model for processing future collections and in amply demonstrating that one focus area within a library structure can positively and effectively contribute to another’s productivity. Departments should be encouraged to collaborate in meeting objectives, because the comradely effort not only unites library members in a communal venture, it also affords library units with the opportunity to take a step beyond their borders by supplementing their own experience, education, and knowledge. As staff at the Broome Library at CSUCI learned, just as no man is an island, when connecting collections, no library staff member need be a sole survivor.
Published by Society of American Archivists. View All Articles.