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Rutgers meets the Digital Alcohol Studies Archive

“Treasures in our Backyard: Meet the Digital Alcohol Studies Archives” was the title of our talk hosted by Rutgers University Libraries faculty Scholarly and Professional Actives Committee (SAPAC) held on December 19, 2023.

An appropriate ending to a year with a strong focus on the collection, the event was well attended by Rutgers faculty and staff. With significant staff participation, this project put the faculty-staff collaboration into practice. Our goal was to share this experience too. It worked out really well, even though not all contributors were able to present due to scheduling conflicts.

Those in attendance had their chance to speak about their roles, others sent slides to share their parts, experts presented by one of us. By the end of the year, the project resulted in a wonderful collaborative outcome that all contributors can proudly list on their CVs.

After Judit Ward’s introduction, first CAS Director Denise Hien shared her thoughts of appreciation from the broader perspective of the addictions research community. For collection overview and historical significance, the video narrated by Nick Allred was succinct and informative.

The next few presenters walked us through the process of digitization at RUL, starting with a brief overview of the operations at the Annex by Jamey Silverstein. His eye-opening talk surprised many attendees who were less knowledgeable about the details of organizing large quantities of materials at the physical location.

Digital data curator Isaiah Beard is one of the key figures in any digital project at RUL. His summary of the process of digital projects also included options to choose digital platforms for any given project and will hopefully inspire further initiatives and encourage librarians to watch out for opportunities to benefit from the robust infrastructure at RUL.

Geoff Wood, metadata librarian provided more technical details about the background operations of RUcore, the main platform. The decision-making process he described about setting up the digital archives pointed out the importance of collaboration in the very early phases of a digital project.

The public-facing Drupal site, i.e., the central hub of the archives, was developed by Sam McDonald and Eva Chan. Their slides, presented by Isaiah, provided technical information from the perspective of the back-end operations, including more decision-making for longevity and sustainability, reinforcing the idea of early collaboration.

Bill Bejarano, one of the original project designers and developers from CAS now teaches prospective librarians at SC&I. His slides, presented by Judit, highlighted the importance of real-life case studies, such as this digital project, for the students to observe, discuss, and analyze.

Kate Greenberg contributions to the archives include a variety of activities she will be doing as an archivist from metadata creation to instructional design. After playing a part of the video she created, Kate also talked about her learning experiences as a graduate assistant working on an actual digital project.

Finally, Nick Allred, alcohol history researcher and content developer for the archives spoke from the research perspective, sharing his over eight-year experience with the Digital Alcohol Studies Archives.

Judit Ward as moderator pieced together all details tying them to the original, fourfold project goal: preservation, access, model, and reflection. We hope the RUL is ready to embrace more digital projects!