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Digital archives from the ground up

Debora A. Person (George William Hopper Law Library, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA)
Tawnya K. Plumb (George William Hopper Law Library, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA)

Digital Library Perspectives

ISSN: 2059-5816

Article publication date: 14 August 2017




For many years, the librarians at University of Wyoming’s George William Hopper Law Library fielded questions about the history of the law school and alumni. Unfortunately, no one collection of institutional historical documents was available to search for relevant answers. The result was a decision to collect historic materials in a digital archive to make them available to anyone in the law school who might field such inquiries and to preserve them for future interest. The purpose of this case study is to provide a blueprint for building a digital archives from the ground up.


The digital archive began with print-born historical documents, scanned as preservation copies and entered into a database of images and files to which searchable metadata could be added. In addition to historical materials, it was important to collect the materials that the law school and the law library were producing. Therefore, the project was twofold: collect, preserve and make searchable the printed historic materials in a digital environment and harvest, preserve and make searchable print-born and digital-born materials as part of an ongoing process. To do this, appropriate software had to be identified.


The following steps blueprint the building of an archive on a digital platform: establish the site’s internet address, title and description; select a look and feel template and personalize the archive; create collections; identify Dublin Core preferences; add items and files using controlled vocabulary; experiment with any available plugins; and promote and provide access to the archive.


The digital archives project initiated by the library has led to other initiatives and opportunities for service.



Person, D.A. and Plumb, T.K. (2017), "Digital archives from the ground up", Digital Library Perspectives, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 253-263.



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