Rice University uses cutting-edge digital archive technology to unlock new discovery pathways

A newly launched digital collections portal has enhanced discovery and contextualisation of digitised special collections at the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library at Rice University.

The new digital archive has been launched using AM Quartex, the digital asset management and website creation platform created by digital primary source publisher, AM, chosen for its innovative automated transcription capabilities and the ability to translate non-English content.

We are excited at the potential impact of transcription services, particularly to help us to serve multi-cultural user communities. For example, we have commissioned the digitisation of a collection in Peruvian Spanish and are eager to see the results once ingested and transcribed in Quartex. We also have oral histories in Vietnamese and look forward to being able to display transcripts for them alongside the recordings. It’s a really powerful tool that helps us to better serve the needs of our researchers.

Norie Guthrie, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian, Woodson Research Center at the Fondren Library

Woodson's university archives and special collections support students, faculty, alumni and special interest researchers and encompass a broad range of materials relating to the university, Texas and beyond. The Houston Asian American Archive, the Joan and Stanford Alexander South Texas Jewish Archives and the Houston Folk Music Archive, as well as materials created by the university’s Task Force on Slavery, Segregation and Racial Injustice, are among the collections that are included in this reimagining of the library’s digitised holdings.

The launch represents a shift from the library’s existing model of hosting the university’s institutional repository (IR) and special collections together using open source software. Scholarly publications held in the IR will remain in their existing home, while the university archives, special collections and digitised copies of rare books will benefit from their new, inherently customisable home in Quartex.

Many of our users are general researchers and the customisable nature of Quartex helps us to meet their needs by making browsing easy and building clear user pathways around the site. While we benefited from the overall development path of our previous system, having our own platform allows us to reimagine our digitised collections and present each in a unique way.

Amanda Focke, Head of Special Collections, Woodson Research Center at the Fondren Library

Rice University’s adoption of AM Quartex follows its acquisition of the entire backlist of AM’s core portfolio of primary source collections in 2021.

Rice University’s AM Quartex site represents several exciting milestones, being our largest launch yet, with almost 200 collections comprising nearly 15,000 assets, and our first migration from DSpace. The Woodson Research Center’s Digital Collections is also perhaps one of the most accessible customer sites published using Quartex, with an Axe accessibility check resulting in just three minor issues which were immediately resolved.

Martin Drewe, Head of Customer Experience at AM

"The scope of Rice’s collections has encouraged our teams to think in new ways, and we are excited to continue working alongside the Rice team as these digital collections develop further," added Martin.

Explore the Woodson Research Center's Digital Collections

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