State of the FSU Digital Library

Every year, about this time of year, I give an update on all the things that happened with the digital library last year. As you can imagine, the FSU Digital Library in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository experienced some changes in how we do business last year. There were stretches of time where we weren’t adding a lot to the digital library because we couldn’t digitize new materials in the Digital Library Center (DLC) due to a pandemic, construction, staffing restrictions etc. So, as a result, we only added about half the usual number of new materials to the digital library that we do each year. But what we did add was to best support the needs of remote instruction and reference for our many user communities.

Leaf from a Book of Hours, circa 1450-1459. Digitized for instructional support in 2020.

We still loaded over 6,000 new items into the digital library in 2020 along with completing a long standing project to review all 280 digital library collections to add credit pages and project documentation wherever possible so that our process, and who is doing the work, is as transparent as possible.

Projects concluded in 2020 included the League of Women Voters, Tallahassee chapter, newsletters, the Wright Family Interview addition to the Emmett Till Archives and an addition to our science collections, years of local field data around ponds in the north Florida area from Dr. Bruce Means.

As you can imagine, most of our work was driven by request after March of last year. Requests came through two pathways – patrons needing materials for remote research and from our instruction team needing materials online for remote class sessions. The DLC staff worked tirelessly once we could return to campus in May to meet the needs of our faculty, staff and community. We were able to digitize large portions of the Hoffer Papers for remote research and initiated an Instructional Support digitization workflow which got a lot of our most used class materials online before the Fall 2020 semester. This added many items to our Pre-Print and Early Print digital collection. Some of our instructional materials are also our “greatest hits” so digitizing them will also hopefully also help preserve them from overuse in the future.

Detail of a chain still attached to a book of sermons in SCA collections. The DLC not only digitized the text but also took photographs of the object so remote researchers and students could see the book as an object as well.

The DLC said goodbye to our longtime staff member Giesele Towels in April as she retired but said hello to Abigail Youngblood when she joined the staff of the DLC in November. The DLC staff are the unsung heroes of the Special Collections & Archives closure. They have picked up the slack when asked and are working through extraordinary times to make sure our digitized materials look fabulous in the digital library.

We look forward to a new digital library platform in 2021 and to getting back to our normal output for the digital library to continue to bring our researchers high quality access to FSU Special Collections & Archives materials as well as our FSU and community partners collections.

Published by Krystal Thomas

Digital Archivist at Florida State University

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