FAAHPN Digital Library Workshop Recap and Riley House Partner Grant Update

FSU Libraries is proud to be a partner with the City of Tallahassee’s John G. Riley Center and Museum of African American History and Culture on a grant to digitize their archives. As part of the three-year project the grant also provides training for members of the Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network (FAAHPN). The first of these training sessions was held on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at the AC Marriott at Cascades Park in Tallahassee. Led by Krystal Thomas, Digital Archivist, Keila Zayas Ruiz, SSDN Coordinator, Katie McCormick, AD for Special Collections & Archives, and Kiah Graham of Sirius Web Solutions; attendees received a project update, and learned about best practices for creating digital projects, including assessment and selection of materials, identification of available descriptions for metadata, partnership development, and a demonstration of the digital library software, Omeka. Seventeen FAAHPN members as well as three grant project interns were in attendance. One attendee lauded the workshop as “timely and critical to the preservation of African American History in our communities around the United States.” As the grant progresses the goal is to hold two more workshops that will expand upon the concepts presented in this first session and build skills and knowledge in the areas of scanning, metadata creation, and copyright assessment.

Krystal Thomas, FSU Digital Archivist, speaking to attendees about getting started with digitization projects.

The Riley Center received the grant in 2021 and the project team started meeting shortly thereafter. In the fall, the team spent time getting the project plan in place and creating a manual and workflows that will be used to complete the digitization project. This spring, three interns, Neissa Philemon, Daniel Arenas, and Noah Cole, were hired to begin the work of assessing the collections for digitization and description. While the project is still in its early stages, the team continues to refine the manual and intended workflows, as well as building a field dictionary for the project which tracks key terms, locations, and time periods relevant to the collection. “We are excited to get to work digitizing materials and to see this collaboration, which has been years in development, take off,” said Katie McCormick, Associate Dean of Libraries for Special Collections and Archives at Florida State University. “We are grateful to our partners and to IMLS for supporting this important project.” “This current award is a next important step in creating access to people’s stories. These are the stories of the people who built our community. They are irreplaceable,” said Riley Museum Founder and Executive Director Emeritus Althemese Barnes. Stay tuned as we will provide additional updates here as the project progresses.

Project interns, Noah Cole, Neissa Philemon, and Daniel Arenas, with presenter, Kiah Graham of Sirius Web Solutions.

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