TARO Updates – Virtual Brown Bag to be held June 23

Connect with TARO at a Virtual Brown Bag
While the 2020 Society of Southwest Archivists annual meeting in Denton has been cancelled due to public health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, TARO will hold its Brown Bag informational meeting, traditionally held at SSA, as a virtual meeting from noon to 1pm on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Look for the registration announcement to be made soon through various archives group communication outlets, the TARO member email list, and the TARO Today blog. It’s not required that you already be affiliated with a TARO member repository to attend—all are welcome!

NEH Implementation Grant – Progress Report
TARO’s National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) implementation grant activities are underway! This work will fund key improvements to our web presence and behind-the-scenes operations and enhance support of our members’ ability to share their collection description with this vital statewide finding aid consortium. Grant activities include:

  • Redesign of the TARO website and software platform to improve functionality and appearance
  • Work toward standardizing existing index terms (names and subject headings)
  • Providing training to TARO members to support their participation
  • Review of the latest revision of Encoded Archival Description standards to anticipate a future upgrade of TARO finding aids from EAD 2002 to EAD3

Grant work began in May 2019 and will extend through April 2022, with the funding administered through the University of Texas Libraries, TARO’s institutional home. Members of the TARO Steering Committee and its subcommittees will carry out work as outlined in the grant. Funding supports hiring of a software developer for a two-year term (UT Libraries’ Senior Software Developer/Analyst Minnie Rangel now fills this position), a metadata librarian for a one-year term, and a web graphic designer hired on a project basis (the last two positions are currently being recruited).

In February 2020, TARO Steering Committee members, its subcommittee chairs, and UT Libraries technical support staff met in person at the Perry-Castañeda Library on the UT Austin campus for a first all-hands meeting to discuss grant planning and activities. Through 2020, development of the new TARO software platform and web interface will begin (including a new TARO logo design and web page color/font palette and wrapper) and usability studies to test the new interface will commence. Once hired, the metadata librarian will analyze index terms as they currently exist in TARO finding aids and begin compiling reports of necessary corrections for TARO member repositories to implement. TARO membership training workshops will be planned, and we’re exploring options for remote training, including webinars and tutorials, so stay tuned for announcements of those opportunities. A second all-hands meeting is scheduled for October 2020.

Summerlee New Member Initiative Project
This Summerlee Foundation-funded project began in 2018 (and will extend at least through 2023) and supports vendor-encoding of legacy finding aids to help new or dormant TARO member repositories participate in TARO. Building on the first eleven participating repositories, we have since added these two participants: the African American Museum (Dallas), and The University of Texas at El Paso, C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department. Over 100 finding aids have been submitted by the participants for encoding, and more than a third of those now appear on TARO. The goal is for over 1,000 finding aids to be added to TARO from at least 25 new members by the end of this initiative. This project is overseen by the immediate past chair of the TARO Steering Committee (which for 2020 is Carla Alvarez) and supported by a quality assurance team of seasoned encoding volunteers from TARO member repositories. Current TARO Steering Committee Chair Rebecca Romanchuk is recruiting new participating repositories for this project—contact her at rromanchuk@tsl.texas.gov if your repository is interested in becoming a new TARO member through this initiative, or if your repository would like to join TARO as a self-sustaining member (repositories using ArchivesSpace can join TARO by exporting EAD finding aids using these steps).

TARO’s participation in NAFAN
In November 2019, the California Digital Library (CDL), University of California, released its action plan representing the culmination of the “Toward a National Finding Aid Network” (NAFAN) planning initiative. In March 2020, UT Libraries sent a letter of support on behalf of TARO to CDL for its submission of an IMLS National Leadership Grants for Libraries full proposal to conduct a two-year research and demonstration project to establish the foundations for a national-level archival finding aid network. TARO pledged to participate in future grant activities in several ways, including sharing finding aid and repository data, providing input on system and functional requirements, testing and evaluating prototype systems, and participating in advisory structures and working groups.

Stay in Touch
TARO working wiki
TARO Today
TARO Best Practices Guidelines

– Rebecca Romanchuk
2020 TARO Steering Committee Chair