PLASC Survey Results

You may recall that back in October, we sent out a survey link to gather tips from the PLASC community. The survey remains open, and we would love to be able to share more responses.

Today’s response comes from Susan Goldstein, San Francisco Public Library.


What is one successful thing you have done for a public library archives/special collection? 

Leveraged all our digitizing so that most of it has cost us nothing. We applied for and received an initial $5,000 grant from the Friends of the Library. After that project, we have had a series of successful partnerships with outside agencies or organizations. The Genealogical Society of Utah/FamilySearch digitized all our early vital records, with somebody onsite for almost two years. This cost us nothing, and we received a digital copy of all of it to use as we pleased. We befriended a local map collector who has an amazing map website. (davidrumsey.com) I invited him to visit and pulled out some of our rare maps for show and tell. He became very excited and offered to digitize them for free! This would have cost us thousands of dollars. Most notably, he digitized an entire, rare set of Sanborn Insurance map volumes for us, as well as an 1938 set of aerial view of San Francisco. I’ve also had local organization pay for us to digitize our periodicals that are related to their mission. For example, the Wine Librarians paid to digitize our California Wine and Spirit Review, a win for both of us.

“I tried this so you don’t have to”: What didn’t quite work?

One of our administrators wrote a grant, without consulting our department, to digitize all the branch history files. He wanted this to be a quick and dirty project that used practically no metadata. Don’t do it! It was really a mess, and we ended up going back in and adding metadata to reach full search capability and make this a much better project. This one year grant is now in year 3 or 4. It takes longer to do it right, but sometimes it’s worth it!


Thanks, Susan! Again, if you have some tips to share, please send them along. We also hope you will share this site with others working in public library archives/special collections who may not be members of SAA.


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