Cataloging 1,000 hours of educational history

“Pop Up Archive is a great product. When I pitched it in my interview to lead this project, it lit up the room. I took a short segment from an LA city council meeting and demonstrated to everybody how it worked, and within a minute they all got what it was, what it did, and what the value was to our project.” Summer Espinoza, Digital Archivist

Summer Espinoza is a digital archivist at California State University at Dominguez Hills, and she’s currently working on a huge project digitizing the archives for the entire California State University system archives. This encompasses anything related relevant to the board of trustees, task forces, and much more, and includes topics such as educational policy, master planning, and system-wide initiatives. While the archive is primarily composed of documents, there are also around 600 audio files totaling over 1,000 hours that date from the early days of the system in the 1960s and 1980s.

These audio files had previously been digitized from their original format (whether reel-to-reel or magnetic tape), so Summer is working on making them searchable and accessible, and she’s using Pop Up Archive to make it happen.

Summer works with three graduate student volunteers on this project, which she hopes to turn into an internship.They collaborate virtually, working through collections of files that they upload and correct to a reasonable degree of accuracy using the Pop Up Archive browser editor. Finished transcripts are then downloaded and saved. Eventually, all the audio files and downloaded transcripts will be made available online for anyone to search and access.

The team may not get to all 600 files within a year, which is the current timeline for the project, so they have found creative ways to triage them. “By looking at supporting documentation, I try to hone in on which recordings to do first,” Summer explained. For example, those that include the voice of Ronald Reagan, who was the governor of California during this time period, might be prioritized. Also, if there is no other documentation available, and the audio files are the sole source item, these are also prioritized. The team may be able to secure additional funding to complete the project if it isn’t done within the scheduled timeframe.

“By using Pop Up Archive to get transcripts, we’re making these recordings accessible to anyone. California State University is the biggest higher education system in the country, and these archives really document the origins and development of it, so it feels very important. Some of the issues we’re facing today were being faced then, just at a different scale. It’s fascinating and informative to hear how these conversations from so many decades ago unfolded.”

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