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Houston Public Library: Digital Archives

Houston Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Marie Wise, Digital Projects Manager, marie.wise@cityofhouston.net

Problem Statement

The Houston Public Library has a wealth of resources in several formats spread across three distinct and specialized special collections and archives. In order to preserve these resources and provide open access, digitization is the best solution. Houston Public Library required a single point for online access as well as a comprehensive digital preservation program.

Innovation

The Houston Public Library Digital Archive was established as a single point for digitization work across the three special collections units in order to consolidate technical expertise, facilitate consistent metadata application, and support digital preservation. The online portal provides wide-open access for all users to materials heretofore difficult to search or with preservation access restrictions.

Progress

Each of the three special collections units within Houston Public Library have produced high-quality, innovative projects:
  • The Houston Metropolitan Research Center has digitized the significant Oral History Collection as well as texts and images of value to users
  • Clayton Center for Genealogical Research, in a partnership with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Family History Archive has provided digital access to more than 1,000 volumes in the Clayton collection
  • The African American Library at the Gregory School has made key materials available online including oral histories, images, and texts
Online access to these significant cultural materials is an innovative service to users and providing archival quality digital images facilitates preservation of the originals. Application of standards-based metadata that is interoperable with state-wide and national digital archives work has made HPL content widely searchable and available. Moreover, as a centralized center for digitization, the HPL Digital Archive has been able to support the efforts of smaller libraries and cultural institutions in the greater Houston area by lending expertise and resources.