By Angela Swift, Archivist
Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) Archives staff, including the digitization team, are working remotely during the recently enacted Stay Home – Work Safe order put in place to curtail the spread of COVID -19. What can a digitization team do from home? As we covered in last summer’s blog post, Why Isn’t Everything in the Archives Available Online?, digitization involves more than the act of creating digital versions of archival materials. When preparing a collection for the Texas Digital Archive, staff usually spend about 25 percent of their time and labor on the digitization portion of the project. Although the team does not have remote access to physical items or scanning equipment while working from home, there are many other tasks that can be done.
Archivist Angela Swift has been working to make the Broadsides collection available online. The Broadsides is a collection of over 700 advertising and other printed notices, dating from 1646-1999, such as this Yellow Fever quarantine notice from 1870. Since TSLAC had previously digitized these items, Angela is able to work from the images to create the descriptions and metadata that are essential for access.
Photo archivist Cait Burhans is updating the State Archives photo database, clarifying copyright and permissions information for our patrons and staff, and editing images for an upcoming exhibit.
Archivist Tiffany Criswell has been working on the Supreme Court M case files missing list and database. Due to floods, fires and thefts, thousands of cases are missing from the collection. She uses a combination of a digitized card file index, digitized dockets and Texas Reports (available through the Portal to Texas History) to gather information about the missing cases. Tiffany says there is a much more thorough and detailed missing list coming soon.
Digital Asset Coordinator Steve Kanter has been busy with image processing, file management and consulting on metadata. He’s also researching speech-to-text technologies to improve the captioning of online film and video.
Other archivists at TSLAC are hard at work as well. Their hasty notetaking, imaging and copying of collections before the Stay-at-Home order was issued allows them to continue their work on processing and appraisal projects.
Archivists Anna Reznik and Rebecca Romanchuk are working on developing ArchivesSpace, our collections management system.
Trading cubicles and coworkers for home and furry office assistants has been a bit challenging for an archive, but we’re learning new technologies and ways of working so we may continue to increase the number of digitized archival materials available for the public.
Note: Reproductions of archival materials for patrons, including all photocopy, digitization, and microfilm requests will be greatly delayed. You are welcome to submit payment, but please be aware that requests may take several weeks to be filled. Additionally, requests that require extensive review for restricted materials, conservation treatment, or staff research may be delayed until our agency status has changed. Please check our website for updates: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/
Please contact our Reference Staff with your inquiries regarding our collections at 512-463-5455 or firstname.lastname@example.org..