Practical Technology for Archives

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[Excerpt] Founded in 1968, the University of Louisville Oral History Center (OHC) houses over 2000 interviews of people from politicians to everyday citizens. Collectively, the oral histories represent an incredibly rich source of historical information. The challenge with a collection of this type and scope is making that information accessible to the people who might use it. Some of the material has been transcribed; some hasn’t. Some of the interviews have been digitized; others are still on cassette tapes. Having full-text or full-sound of the entire collection online is just not possible at this time; the work of transcribing or digitizing the materials would take an enormous amount of labor. Creating hierarchical finding aids would not accommodate the item-level description necessary for meaningful access to the oral histories. So we looked for ways to make information about the collection available: who was interviewed, who conducted the interview, when, what topics were covered, etc. Over the years access to this metadata evolved from typed lists available at the reference desk to records in the library’s catalog.