Building next-generation archival access tools
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With the launch of large-scale book digitization projects by companies such as Google and Microsoft, libraries will increasingly be distinguished by their special and archival collections, and by the services that they offer to provide access to these collections. This presentation describes some of the innovative tools being created to enhance access to resources of the Northwest Digital Archives (NWDA), a consortium of libraries and archival facilities in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The NWDA’s online union catalog is hosted at Washington State University. These efforts include the creation of a robust RSS feed describing recently-added NWDA resources and the integration of a user tagging system that enables visitors to add information to collection finding aids while the archival record is kept intact. This work is performed through software creation at Washington State University, with programmers working in close collaboration with NWDA consortium archivists. The result of this work is to make the resources housed at NWDA institutions and those available through the online NWDA union catalog much more visible to students, faculty, and historical researchers. The presentation will provide visual examples and demonstrations of these applications, along with information on how these tools are being integrated into the NWDA program.