Tech Library prepares for a new digital repository

The new online digital repository is being launched by the Tech Library as a way to better consolidate new information and old archives for easy access by the campus community. // Photo by Allie Ghisson Student Publications

At the end of 2022, the Tech Library transitioned the Tech Archives Portal to its digital repository service, allowing members of the Institute to access archival photos, campus scholarship and other pertinent collections all housed in a singular place.

“The [Archives] Portal was a website that provided access to, primarily, digitized photographs from university archives collections,” said Wendy Hagenmaier, a digital curation archivist at Tech. While these photos range from quaint depictions of campus life to site plans from the 1996 Summer Olympics, any member of the Tech community can now access them through the online digital repository. 

“The decision to sunset [the Archives Portal] was just because the technology was getting older and was not well supported, and we also just wanted to bring together the photographs that were previously available in the portal with all these other unique digital collections that we have in the library,” Hagenmaier said. 

Having many different types of media altogether was a prominent factor for transitioning collections into one database. For instance, making a general search of the word “dog” through the digital repository brings up scholarly articles about working animals, black-and-white photos of students and their pets and an interview recording with the 2013 InVenture Prize winner about his robotic dog toys. 

Library staff hope consolidating search engines into one primary location will be the simplest solution for all members of the campus community wanting to learn about previous Institute happenings.

The digital repository will also absorb previous databases for Tech content, like the SMARTech service that has been used for research and scholarship over the past 20 years. While the full transition to the digital repository is still underway, the benefits it offers are already apparent. 

“The repository is very well indexed by Google and by Google Scholar,” said Susan Parham, a digital curation librarian at Tech. Parham believes this will help students as they begin their careers, because their previous research publications and experience can be easily accessed by future employers. She also is excited for integration of the repository with ORCID, which gives researchers a persistent identifier that follows them between institutions. 

Another benefit mentioned by Hagenmaier is that all archival photographs will now have a permanent URL associated with them for easier identification. 

“For example, if a student cites a photograph, that link won’t move and will be persistent in their article or in their thesis,” she said. Hagenmaier also noted that the digital repository better supports searching inside PDFs in its collections, something that the Archives Portal struggled with. Parham also joined her to comment on the revamping of the metadata search system within the digital repository, which will make both physical and digital items more discoverable for users. 

The library staff hope these features will benefit everyone as they attempt to find historical materials relating to Tech. Consolidating all of the Institute’s media products into one search engine will make research easier to navigate, and Hagenmaier also hopes future entry sites and landing pages will allow the digital repository to ingrain itself further into campus data management. 

While the digital repository will hold most content from or about the Institute, other media will still exist in additional library databases.

“Not every single digital asset available through the library will be in the digital repository,” Parham said. “The things we pay for through commercial publishers, like journal articles, those types of things, you won’t find those in the repository. You still find those the same way [by] doing database searches.”

The library hopes access will not be limited to any of these materials as they make the transition. For example, Parham said they have been implementing many redirects so users can find previously bookmarked materials in the new digital repository. 

Hagenmaier said that the dissolution of the Archives Portal was a step in the rebranding of the library’s digital collections. She stated that the full launch of the digital repository will be in March of this year and will include a new look and feel to the website. 

Until the official launch, anyone can currently explore the library’s online digital repository and its archives by directly accessing library.gatech.edu/archives