Meet Lauren Goodley, Archivist at The Wittliff Collections

by Michelle Slater

Lauren Goodley is a professional archivist with The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University. She has been in her current position for five years, and has taken on various projects, responsibilities, and collaborations; as her role continues to change and grow. In her position as archivist, she processes analog/paper archival materials, and has spearheaded a burgeoning digitization and preservation program for the archive and its parent library.

The Collection that Lauren works with, the Southwestern Writers Collection, was founded in 1986 by Bill and Sally Wittliff, which birthed the broader special collections known as ‘The Wittliff Collections’ or ‘The Wittliff,’ that resides within the Albert B. Alkek Library at Texas State University. Their mission is to collect, preserve, and share the creative legacy of the Southwest’s literary, photographic, and musical arts, while fostering the region’s ‘Spirit of Place’ in the world. The Wittliff Collection has three ‘pillars’ in its collecting scope: Southwestern Writers, Southwestern and Mexican Photography, and Texas Music. The Wittliff is open to the public with free admission, and welcomes visitors, tours and classes. The collection is available to statewide, national, and international researchers, and is also frequented by the student body and local community. Lauren shares the responsibility of teaching and hosting class trips at varying levels of education to the archives, as well as making visits to classrooms on campus and appearing at community events.

Lauren has always been in conversation with local histories, having grown up in Texas and completed several intern positions at local history sites. Lauren’s background in advocacy and outreach has a large bearing on her current work within The Wittliff, tying into their mission of lifting up Texas’s creative profile and identity. She achieves this by creating access to materials in the archive, as well maintaining relationships with local communities and users. She has collaborated on several exhibits using archival material as a form of outreach, and provides materials to other departments of the library/archives for their outreach programs as well. Through her role as archivist with The Wittliff Collections, Lauren contributes to the proliferation and preservation of Texas’s rich creative culture, in perfect harmony with her interests in local community building and advocacy. She conducts reference work for researchers, students, and journalists, and recently provided reference services for journalists and production companies covering the 25th anniversary of an important local event. Lauren’s reference work directly effects advocacy for the archives, lifting The Wittliff’s public profile as a ‘remembering’ institution in the local community.

One of The Wittliff’s developing outreach projects is with the Austin Film Festival, to preserve their conference recordings digitally in the archives. This partnership has provided the archives with valuable community material, and in exchange, Lauren advised the group in establishing records keeping standards for their materials. The goal of this project is to digitally preserve these community materials, and create equitable access online- which Lauren works to improve, in junction with the Library Programmer.

With the Southwestern Writers Collection, Lauren developed workflows and archival standards for efficiently and effectively digitizing materials in-house. She first addressed inconsistencies in the archive’s digitization practices, and with a student worker, created an inventory identifying at-risk items in their holdings to be digitized. The inventory is updated with all new acquisitions, includes previously processed digital materials as well. The standardized protocol makes the task of digitization easier to delegate to student workers. Lauren supervises these student workers and interns, as she oversees quality control, workflow efficiency, and that archival standards are up to date. This stewardship in caring for digital archival records contributes to The Wittliff’s longterm goal of preservation, and creates equitable access to its materials.

Within the broader scope of the library, Lauren created the Digital Preservation Working Group (DPWG), which meets bi-weekly and consists of herself, the archivist from University Archives, and members of the Digital and Web Services department. This group works to assess use and access of the digital materials of the archive and library, and manages a plan for the Library’s digital asset management and preservation, adhering to the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model. In forming this group, Lauren hopes to increase access as a means of outreach and advocacy, as materials are easier to find and use; and preservation, which ensures that access in ongoing. So far, the group has completed their digital preservation policy, which applies to all digital holdings of The Wittliff, as well as digital assets of the Library.