We are very pleased to announce that the Princeton University Library’s Archival Description working group has been awarded the 2012 Frederic M. Miller Finding Aid Award by the Mid Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC). The award recognizes outstanding finding aids and finding aid systems in the Mid Atlantic region. Submissions are evaluated in the areas of content, design, innovation, and adherence to descriptive standards.
Princeton’s archival description working group includes two Mudd staff members: Maureen Callahan and Dan Santamaria, who serves as chair of the group. Former Mudd staff member Regine Heberlein is also a key member of the group, as are Don Thornbury and John Delaney from Firestone Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections and Jon Stroop and Shaun Ellis of the library’s digital initiatives group.
The group was awarded first prize in the 2012 competition for findingaids.princeton.edu, the redesigned finding aids interface for descriptions of Princeton’s archives and manuscripts collections. The new interface was the result of more than a year of close collaboration between Department of Rare Books and Special Collections and Digital Initiatives staff. The site contains descriptions of all of the archival and manuscript collections held at Princeton and includes a number of innovations including:
• Delivery of images of actual collections material directly from the finding aid interface
• Contents lists that are sortable by title, date, or physical location in the collection
• Enhanced topic features, listing collections related to our collecting strengths
• Better options for users to contact the library and connect with each other, including “Ask a Question” buttons for reference requests and commenting features for users wishing to request a description enhancement or share information within their own social networks
• Automated requesting of collections material from all contents lists
• Direct access to components of collections (often boxes and folders) from search results and Faceting and browsing options from search results.
In addition to the work of the team that developed the finding aids site, it should be noted the site is built on data created by dozens of library staff over the last several years. The innovations described above would not be possible without the work of these staff members in processing and describing our collections.
The award comes with a small monetary prize, which will be donated to a small historical society in New Jersey. While use of the finding aids by our patrons is our biggest reward, it’s great to receive recognition for the hard work that went into developing the site. Congratulations to everyone involved!