The DLC in the times of COVID

A long time ago, in March 2020, when we all had such hopes that closing the library was a temporary measure, the Digital Library Center (DLC) started to think about how it could support remote research and instruction during the rest of the spring semester. Fast forward to August 2020, and the DLC is now firmly engaged in on-demand digitization for patrons as well as a fully developed instructional support digitization work stream that is digitizing and fast tracking description to get materials into the digital library for fall classes. We’ve faced a lot of challenges during the last few months, the least of which at times has been a pandemic, but I think the DLC is headed in new and exciting directions.

Illuminated manuscript Leaf from a Book of Hours
Leaf from a Book of Hours, 1465, see original object

First of all, the challenges. One, a global pandemic but this one the DLC has navigated (cross all the fingers) really well so far. The DLC was closed from mid-March through early May. We returned to work on a rotation schedule which is working well. Another challenge was the retirement of a long time employee (we miss you Giesele!) which means the DLC is down a staff member. We’re also not actually *in* the DLC right now. Due to construction on the 2nd floor of Strozier Library, we’re in temporary digs until mid-September. This limits what equipment we have to do digitization right now. Bonus square on 2020 bingo? We’re also prepping for a platform migration for our digital library because why do one thing at a time when you can do ALL the things at the same time!

So, what are we doing to meet these challenges? The open position in the DLC is being reviewed currently and hopefully, we’ll be able to move forward with it before the end of the year. While we are limited in terms of our temporary space, we’re making it work and creating a “wait list” for projects to do once we’re back in the DLC. We’re proactively communicating with those on the wait list and so far, everyone is working with us on delayed delivery dates. We’re also working with our Special Collections & Archives Instruction Group on digitization needs and created guidelines to help instruction liaisons understand when the DLC might not be needed to meet their needs. We’re also planning and prepping for our upcoming migration and getting ourselves ready for if the digital library might need to be offline for a time during our move into the new and improved platform.

Even through all that, we’ve managed to get a lot of new materials up in the digital library since May. Some of this material was already digitized prior to our shutdown in March but was waiting on description for loading into the digital library. Thanks to the need for remote work, and the increased number of staff looking for it, we got a lot of waiting materials off the list and into the digital library. We’ve continued to add new materials online as we’ve digitized on campus and worked on description and loading remotely.

The cover of The Black Voice: June 1977. Volume I. Number II.

We added several university publications this spring and summer. Smoke Signals and Talaria (highlighted in a blog post earlier this year), Athanor, Black Insight, Black Voice (see the full issue highlighted at the side here), and Affirmative Action Quarterly were all added to the University Publications digital collection. We completed loading several more years’ worth of issues to the ongoing project to make the full run of Il Secolo available online. Continuing our partnership with community organizations, we also added new materials to both the Leon High School and First Baptist Church of Tallahassee collections.

Just this past month, we also added new video footage from an interview with Wright Family members to the Emmett Till Archives, shared our first submissions to the FSU COVID-19 Community Experience Project and loaded our first big batch of Instructional Support materials. The instructional materials are scattered through several collections in the digital library but include some of SCA’s “greatest hits” such as our chained book and our signed first edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species as well as many of our Book of Hours leaves.

As we head into the Fall, the DLC is trying to be prepared for whatever 2020 might throw our way next but we feel confident we’re moving in the right direction and continuing to support our faculty, staff and students!

Published by Krystal Thomas

Digital Archivist at Florida State University

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