Online Image Library
Working in conjunction with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the LBJ Library and Museum maintains approximately 650,000 still photographs and negatives taken during President Lyndon Johnson’s lifetime. The LBJ Library routinely provides access to these images, as well as audio, video and paper documents, to researchers, media representatives and the general public.
AV Archivists worked with a giant paper database originally compiled in the 1960’s. The system had data errors and retrieving data proved to be difficult. In 2000, a process of digitally scanning prints and negatives began. The Archivists used an MS Access database was built to handle some data storage and order fulfillment duties.
Unfortunately the system did not include web-based delivery and did not scale to meet the projected needs of the massive project. The LBJ Library also had a strict budget cap, yet still needed to fulfill growing demand for content.
Increased public requests for images and contextual information drove the need for a more robust system that increase speed of delivery while reducing costs. To meet fiscal constraints, I engaged my network of freelance developers to define and deliver a web application with secure web-based administration.
To work within annual budget cycles, I planned a phased approach where the new system could be incorporated into the existing site’s visual identity. We also limited initial data migration to specific records that were manually inserted into the system. The initial campaign promoted the public release of limited edition collections.
In Phase II, we expanded administrative features to enable archivist the ability of posting adding and modifying images as well as manage descriptive data through their web browser.
The new system was a vast improvement in the accessibility and preservation of the collection. The LBJ Library was able to deliver larger files more quickly which freed staff to concentrate on archivist duties. The system could easily scale in volume to keep pace with the archivist’s offline efforts. The LBJ Library could more readily meet demand and was empowered to measure consumer use. The public expressed appreciation for the improvements.