Sonoma County Library

Ensuring accessibility of digitized collections through Quartex

We talked to Geoffrey Skinner, Cataloging and Metadata Supervising Librarian, and Edy Dawson, Web Programmer Analyst, from Sonoma County Library about the importance of providing digital access to their collections, especially in light of certain human and natural challenges.

  • "With Quartex, all of our local digital projects (including digitized archival and special collections materials, our local databases, and the various collections from our partner organizations) can finally be in one place and that has been our goal for many years."

    Geoffrey Skinner, Sonoma County Library

  • "We wanted to provide patrons with an experience similar to walking through a museum, so we used colorful images as much as possible to give more visual interest and an overall flavor of each collection."

    Edy Dawson, Sonoma County Library

  • Sonoma home page
  • Sonoma Winemakers Collection
  • Sonoma Digitized Archival Collections


The challenge: maintaining access to, and awareness of, the county’s heritage collections

In the past year, due to California wildfires, floods, and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, Sonoma County Library has only been able to offer intermittent access to its physical collections. Consequently, demand for its digital collections increased significantly, by 155% in the first few months of 2020 alone.

To provide better digital access the team at Sonoma trialled initiatives including WiFi hotspots and loanable Chromebooks. They decided in Spring 2020 that they needed to improve the presentation of their digital collections and provide enhanced online experiences and remote services, including expanded e-sources, social media, and virtual events.

However, their existing digital collections platform was no longer fit-for-purpose, having developed very little in the previous ten years, making it almost impossible to meet these objectives in a satisfactory and timely way.


The solution: a fully hosted platform, enabling remote asset management and site design

The library chose Quartex for its ability to manage collections and create sites whilst working remotely as a small team – as well as for its flexible architecture, modern and responsive design, deep searching capabilities across audio, video and text, ability to upload metadata-only records, and simple workflows for batch editing.

A further incentive for this forward-looking and innovative organisation was the chance to become the first public library in the US to partner with Quartex and contribute to the platform’s future development.


The results: 120,000 assets discoverable on Quartex and further projects planned

Over the course of a year, more than 120,000 assets from 57 different collections, largely the library’s own but also from five partner associations, have been migrated into Quartex, with more being added as new collections are created.

Geoffrey told us that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, especially in terms of using the platform’s in-built functionality, such as Controlled Vocabularies, to aid discoverability. “Features such as the Controlled Vocabularies offer a lot of flexibility as a way of filtering results and linking materials across collections and databases, and between partner collections.”

The results speak for themselves: in the first two months alone, daily pageviews increased by 285%.

The team at SCL plans to build on key collections including the Sonoma Wine Library as well as develop new resources, such as a local history index and the Sonoma Responds Archive / Archivo de Sonoma Responds, which invites both English and Spanish community contributions that detail life during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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