Texas Digital Library Conference System, TCDL 2012

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A Digital Repository for the World of Physical Culture
Lesley Caldwell, Brent Sipes

Building: AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center
Room: Room 102
Date: 2012-05-24 03:15 PM – 04:00 PM
Last modified: 2012-05-02


The H.J. Lutcher Stark Center is a burgeoning special collection library, archive, and museum that celebrates the world of physical culture and sports. The collection includes hundreds of thousands of cataloged -- and mostly uncatalogued items -- ranging from historical nutrition texts to decades old weightlifting equipment. Led by scholar-athletes Jan and Terry Todd, the Stark Center opened its doors in 2008. One of the largest donors to the Stark Center was Ottley Coulter who is recognized as the first historian of bodybuilding. A circus strongman, writer, and one of the founding fathers of weightlifting in the United States, Coulter was a hobbyist collector saving thousands of newspaper clippings, correspondence, and weightlifting publications. The Todds met Coulter in 1964, and eventually acquired his personal collection in 1975. Housing the Coulter collection and other rare materials, the Stark Center’s collection is the largest of its kind and the staff recognized the need to make their collection accessible to researchers unable to travel to their University of Texas location. The presentation will begin with the assessment process we went through when selecting our software solution. As a new institution with one dedicated librarian and no in-house technical staff, we had to consider our limited funding and staff size in our planning. Ultimately we chose to go with the open-source solution DSpace. Next the presentation will cover the steps necessary to create a digital repository, from testing and training to data transfer. With that we will share the issues we faced throughout the development cycle. For example, though Ottley Coulter was a collector, he was not a librarian. The items in his collection are briefly labeled if labeled at all. Hence, issues with controlled vocabulary stemmed from the fractured and chaotic nature of the Coulter clippings. Features of the presentation will include our transfer of 3,500 files from File Maker Pro into DSpace, the benefits and limits of optical character recognition (OCR) for archival documents, our rationale for and design of a one-page external submission form, and a tour of our DSpace collection. Our presentation will give insight into the struggles and successes of setting up a new library and establishing best practices for building an information repository in a start-up institution. The platform that DSpace provides for organizing rare materials and making them accessible to sport historians across the world is something Ottley Coulter could never have imagined when he started clipping newspaper stories one-hundred years ago.


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