Fort Worth Library shines a spotlight on its city’s history with CONTENTdm

In 2010, staff at the Fort Worth (Texas) Library started managing their digital collections with CONTENTdm. They selected CONTENTdm because it is a good fit for their archival collections and because of the metadata flexibility. They also like the way the interface is oriented toward individual collections.

Recently, Fort Worth Library switched to CONTENTdm’s new responsive interface. Jana Hill, Senior Librarian–Digital Archivist, spoke about their switch: “I think I notified OCLC support that we wanted to switch, and then we upgraded ten days later. The process was seamless, quick, and painless.”

Now, the library staff are working on tidying up legacy metadata that was in their previous CONTENTdm interface. The facet browse in the new CONTENTdm responsive interface is a helpful feature for Fort Worth Library’s users, and they want to make sure their metadata is in line for this feature. “We love that [the interface] is mobile friendly,” said Jana. “The switch was a good reason to look at how things are displayed and refresh our digital elements. In the old interface, it was hard to tell how many collections were available. With the new interface, you can see pages of collections and not miss anything.”

Jana added that the library has received very positive feedback from their users about the interface. The library’s workflow has not really changed, but the switch has inspired staff to pay closer attention to the visuals in their CONTENTdm site. They also focus on looking at the subject and date fields. Jana wants to make sure these elements are standardized. The library staff are also crafting succinct descriptions to describe the collections on the homepage.

Fort Worth Library patrons interact with the Fort Worth Library Digital Archives in a variety of ways. One example is a researcher working with local theatre history. He used the Fox Photograph Collection for his research focused on Casa Manana. This theatre was built in Fort Worth in the 1930s, and is a national landmark.

The library has also partnered with a local community college, Tarrant County College, to have the help of history class students with transcribing the 19th century mayoral and council proceedings. The Fort Worth Library is the official archives of the City of Fort Worth. The students get the experience of using older documents and they also get to see how government used to work. They do all of this work using CONTENTdm.

The Gruen Plan for “A Greater Fort Worth Tomorrow” collection is one of Fort Worth Library’s most popular collections. In 1956, the Victor Gruen and Associates architecture firm developed a very futuristic view of redoing Fort Worth. It was designed to revitalize the business district and alleviate traffic congestion in downtown Fort Worth. The Gruen Plan is one of three digital collections that documents the history of transportation infrastructure in the City of Fort Worth. The Shires Photograph Collection chronicles the development of infrastructure in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The Bartholomew Plan, developed in 1927 by urban planner Harland Bartholomew, proposed changes to the city’s major traffic arteries.   

Staff at The Fort Worth Library continually add new collections to their digital archives. Up next, they will finish up their work on their legacy metadata. The staff will also add more items to their Local History Publication collection.

performer at the Casa Manana theater (detail)

Performer at the Casa Manana theater (detail)