Coming Together: How Digital Preservationists, Archivists, and Public Reference Staff Transformed a Preservation System for Enhanced Access
The introduction of the Texas Digital Archive (TDA) exposed gaps between digital preservation, archival description, and reference services at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). Faced with overwhelming and unmediated access, librarians and archivists asked: “But how will users find what they’re looking for?” User feedback highlighted the need for an integrated workgroup to develop well-rounded solutions and anticipatory measures, a move that required focus on transforming our tendency towards silos and reactive solutions towards improved planning, communication, and understanding. Our approach leveraged the diverse skills and vantage points within our team. This panel discussion reflects on the evolution of TDA features, challenges faced, and advances made. The result of this ongoing collaborative effort is continually improving access to TSLAC’s digital collections. In this presentation, Senior Electronic Records Specialist, Mark Myers, will provide some background on the development of the TDA, the need for speedy implementation of the public access portal, and the resulting issues related to the differing expectations between the archives and reference staff. Reference Archivist, Caroline Jones, discuss the problems front-line staff had in assisting researchers looking for documents in the TDA and the development of search tools including general and customized search tips pages and accompanying videos. Electronic Records Specialist, Brian Thomas, will discuss development of external search pages drawn from TDA metadata, customization of the TDA interface for better usability, incorporation/addition of responsive design, developing a unified metadata schema, how TDA upgrades to facets and filters affected the metadata requirements, and design of pages.