Practical Technology for Archives

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[Excerpt] On July 26, 2015, the United States celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), one of the most significant civil rights laws of the 20th century and the result of decades of work on behalf of disability rights: “a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” In recognition, the Dole Archives at the University of Kansas (KU) created an original exhibit on disability rights in the U.S. from the perspective of Senator Bob Dole’s experience. We supplemented the curated exhibit with over 12,000 thematically related pages of archival documents, implementing a hybrid approach of item-level and folder-level scans, and providing access via a SIMILE Exhibit interface embedded in a responsive web site.

This case study focuses on the digitization efforts of the project, the creation of the web exhibit, and relevant lessons learned through the process. It illustrates an example of the practical aspects of a smaller institution’s efforts toward (a) an MPLP-inspired approach to bulk digitization, including folder-level scanning and minimalist metadata creation, and (b) the use of open-source technology (specifically, Bootstrap for responsive web design and SIMILE Exhibit for an interactive digital collection) to facilitate discovery and access to a large amount of content in way that is usable, accessible, and flexible.