University of Houston student employees play a vital role in the successful operation of the University Libraries. Employed by virtually every department, these student employees staff the Libraries’ circulation desks, digitize unique and rare materials from Special Collections, and make outstanding contributions to the Libraries’ mission to “advance student success, knowledge creation and preservation, and globally competitive research.”
As the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic came into sharp focus, the University of Houston moved classes online. Shortly thereafter, campus facilities, including the Libraries, closed, moving all services online. To keep our typically on-site student staff gainfully employed along with adding to the strength of our online collections, members of the Libraries’ Special Collections department and Metadata and Digitization Services department’s Digitization Unit began to plan for remote work opportunities.
Two projects, both related to the transcription of archival audiovisual materials, were ideal for remote work. The first project addresses the hundreds of digitized archival films and videos on the Libraries’ Audio/Video Repository. Though well-described, these videos lacked closed captioning, making them inaccessible to deaf and hard of hearing researchers. The second project, utilizing the expertise of bilingual student employees, will see the creation of searchable transcripts for a collection of oral history recordings documenting the fight for bilingual education legislation in Texas.
Within a week of campus closure, project managers developed training materials, conducted a small pilot project, and began working with 25 students from six units across the Libraries. As of this writing, five weeks into the project, students have completed captions for all of the This Is Our Home documentary interview collection, chronicling Houston’s Riverside neighborhood. These closed captioned videos will soon be available online.
We are thrilled with the success of this project and look forward to providing increased access to hundreds more of the Libraries’ resources in the coming months.
Thanks to Emily Vinson for contributing this story.