Archival Description Group Wins National Award

The University Library’s Archival Description Working Group has won another award for its efforts in finding new ways to deliver information about our collections to our users. The Society of American Archivists will present the C.F.W Coker Award to the group in August for findingaids.princeton.edu, the University Library’s interface for descriptions of Princeton archives and manuscript collections. Society of American Archivists Logo The Coker Award “recognizes finding aids, finding aid systems, innovative development in archival description, or descriptive tools that enable archivists to produce more effective finding aids. To merit consideration for the award, nominees must set national standards, represent a model for archives description, or otherwise have a substantial impact on national descriptive practice.” It is awarded to archives throughout North America; previous winners include the Archivists’ Toolkit project, the Online Archives of California, and the working group that developed Encoded Archival Description.

The Award Committee noted that the team at Princeton “created a complete user experience of the Princeton University collections that is elegant in its outward simplicity and robust in its search capabilities. . . . The site is, in short, a triumph of innovative descriptive practice.” Maureen Callahan, John Delaney, Shaun Ellis, Regine Heberlein, Dan Santamaria, Jon Stroop, and Don Thornbury serve on the Working Group. The site also builds on descriptive data created by many staff involved with aggressive processing and data conversion projects over the last seven years.

The site was publicly released last September. The group was also awarded the Mid Atlantic Regional Archives Conference’s Finding Aid Award in April. As always, our biggest reward is the use of the finding aids, and the material they describe, by our patrons, but it’s great to receive recognition for all the effort that went into developing the site.

Redesigned Finding Aids Site Now Live

The Finding Aids site for Princeton University Library’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections has been completely overhauled and enhanced with many new features to make it easier to search through our holdings.

We officially released the site on September 4:  http://findingaids.princeton.edu

Main Page for the new finding aids site

Main Page for the new finding aids site

 

(The previous finding aid site will remain available until September 28 at the following URL: http://findingaids.princeton.edu/classic/)

There are many features and enhancements related to the new interface; a few are listed below. One of the most prominent features is the ability to view images of archival material directly from the finding aids:

“Thumbnail View” of image browsing feature in the new finding aid interface.

Selected Site Features:

• Delivery of images directly from the finding aid interface
• Greatly improved relevancy rankings from search results
• Advanced faceting and browsing options from search results
• Contents lists that are sortable by title, date, or physical location in the collection
• A more modular display of the finding aids – users will not be required to navigate several hundred page documents on the web (but can view the entire finding aid as a single page if they prefer)
• Enhanced topic features
• Better options for users to contact the library and connect with each other, including an “Ask a Question” (for reference requests) and a commenting feature for users wishing to request an enhancement to the description or discuss the content of the collection.
• Ability to place online requests to view material in our reading rooms.
• A much cleaner, and more modern, look and feel.

Several instructional videos which provide information on using the site are available online. We will be adding to the videos in the coming months. General help topics are also available, via the Special Collections Research Account Website.

A number of Department of Rare Books and Special Collections staff, including Maureen Callahan, John Delaney, Regine Heberlein, Dan Santamaria, and Don Thornbury, collaborated with Jon Stroop and Shaun Ellis of the Library’s Digital Initiatives Group in order to develop the new interface. It builds on descriptive data created by dozens of staff involved with aggressive processing and data conversion projects over the last seven years. We’re very proud of the results and think it is one of the most advanced archival access systems available anywhere.

We welcome your comments and questions through the “site feedback” link which is at the top of every page or the commenting feature available on finding aids themselves. We hope you’ll use the finding aids as much as possible in your work and we look forward to your feedback.