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Virtual, searchable Vietnam archive

The Vietnam Center in Lubbock, Texas, has undertaken a $1.8 million project to digitize its holdings as a virtual archive available to the public online. The Center, created by Texas Tech University, is dedicated to collecting, preserving and making available records of the American Vietnam experience.

"Ultimately, about 20 million pages of information will be included," says Stephen Maxner, associate director and archivist of the Virtual Vietnam Archive, which got underway in 2001. "We knew we needed a database system that could handle that level of information, although at the beginning we had only about 4 million documents."

The Vietnam Center wanted a solution that would allow rapid searching through an increasingly immense amount of information that includes documents, photographs, slides, negatives, audio and video recordings, artifacts and oral history. The collection grows daily; the Center receives an average of more than one new collection per day, and staff scan in more than 30,000 pages each month.

After considering a number of products, the staff chose the Cuadra Star/Museums information management system from Cuadra Associates. The solution links multiple databases and allows them to be searched transparently by users. The Center also created a dedicated portal page for its staff, so employees can help users find needed information by searching material that is not directly available to the public.

"The solution lets us create separate databases for different collections and link them together," says Maxner. "We have been able to customize each database for the type of material and make them functional and seamless to the user."

The Center also liked the solution's streamlined Web interface, which allows even inexperienced users to find what they want quickly and easily, according to Cuadra.

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