By Bailey Judis
I am a high school student at the Austin Waldorf School, and as part of our school’s curriculum, we are given two weeks during the Spring semester to experience a type of work featuring a process. Given my passion for history and interest in museums and archives, I chose to do my work experience at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). I have very much enjoyed learning the many processes that go into storing, preserving, and digitizing the TSLAC’s many artifacts. I was able to witness many dedicated and hardworking staff members as well as numerous steps taken to ensure all of the archival materials and artifacts are available to everyone for research. Accessibility is a key motivation for this organization.
One of the processes I observed was the TSLAC’s process of digitization. By putting scans of artifacts and documents onto the Texas Digital Archive, I learned that this allows patrons and researchers to access and observe them from anywhere in the world. It also helps preserve the life of the artifact and documents. I was able to observe the project and process of digitizing the Texas Supreme Court documents. The first thing I learned about this process is that in order for the documents to be scanned, they must be flat. Since most of the documents had been rolled very tightly and stored in boxes for many years, they definitely needed to be flattened. After removing the documents bindings, such as ribbons and brads, the documents were then humidified using a simple method of container humidification. After being humidified, the documents were laid between pieces of blotting paper and transferred to the book press. Some documents however were bound with homemade glue, requiring a tedious process of removing the adhesive before they could be pressed. After being left in the book press for two weeks, the now flattened documents were stored in the stacks as they waited to be scanned and put onto the Texas Digital Archive. An overview of what was said in each document would be added with the document’s scan to the Texas Digital Archive, that way a researcher would be able to look through the Texas Supreme documents and have an easier time finding what they were looking for.
One of the most surprising things I learned was how organized and neat the stacks are. There is so much detail and so many little steps that are key to ensure no artifacts and documents become lost. The Archives and Library staff put so much care into what they do, and their passion for what they do has been very inspiring for me. I was able to learn so much about how the Archives and Library works, and I also had the privilege of seeing their Talking Book Program, working on my skills of scanning and learning about digitization, looking at old photographs and nineteenth century microfilm and much more. I feel very honored to have had the privilege to work with so many inspiring and compassionate people and the opportunity to learn about such an amazing organization. Their passion for their jobs was incredibly inspiring.