Texas Digital Library Conference System, 2016 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries

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Latin American Digital Initiatives: Building a Post-Custodial Digital Repository in Islandora
Theresa E. Polk, Melanie Cofield, Brandon Cornell, Jon Gibson, Jose Gonzalez Roa

Last modified: 2016-03-31


This panel will discuss the development of the Latin American Digital Initiatives (LADI - http://ladi.lib.utexas.edu/home) repository within the Islandora/Fedora repository framework. LADI is the result of a grant-funded pilot project to develop a post-custodial approach to international archival collaboration at LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas. Under the auspices of the grant, LLILAS Benson partnered with three archival institutions in Central America to digitally preserve and provide broad online access to collections that document human rights in the region. Rather than physically taking custody of the collections, we provided the archival training and equipment necessary to preserve, arrange, describe, and digitize them locally onsite, while our partner institutions conducted the digitization work, and created the descriptive metadata.  This approach, informed by post-custodial archival theory, sought to maximize local control and build trust towards the shared stewardship of these unique archival collections.

The collections have been made freely available online in collaboration with the University of Texas Libraries. Project staff worked closely with UT Libraries’ Metadata Coordinator and the Technology Innovation & Strategy unit to create the LADI platform utilizing the open source Islandora/Fedora repository framework.  For UT Libraries, the project served as a test case for in-house development with Islandora, helping to identify resource, staffing, and workflow requirements. In this panel, the core project team will share how -- through thoughtful design, Drupal theming, scripts to facilitate ingest, and careful control of metadata and indexing -- we were able to bring the collections online without modifying core Islandora assets. At the same time, we will also discuss some of the distinctive challenges and lessons learned from instantiating a post-custodial digital archive in the Islandora repository framework.

The presentation will conclude by demonstrating how the LADI repository is enabling new insights into scholarship on human rights in the region. Uniting these three distinct collections within the same repository framework provides a new perspective into how both repression and resistance were internationalized at the height of the Central American conflicts. It is also providing the foundation for a new graduate history seminar at UT that integrates traditional modes of research along with digital scholarship methodologies in critically interacting with, interpreting, and contextualizing these unique collections.


Islandora; Post-Custodial; International; Digital Repository

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