FAST and not so FAST faceting in digital collections

My library recently migrated away from a vendor-based digital asset management system to a homegrown system built with open source components. For additional background, check out this article in D-Lib, which addresses an aspect of the migration. We also recently published an article focusing on the tools and processes we used to migrate our metadata. While we did do some metadata clean-up prior to migration, there’s still a great deal of work to do with metadata remediation and enhancement after the migration. In our new system, one of the features I was particularly eager to try out was the ability to add custom facets for different collections. I developed a workflow for a part-time student to work on enhanced faceting. We’ve been experimenting with adding FAST headings to many of our oral history collections such as Interviews with Jews in Utah and the Carbon County Oral Histories. Right now, the default display shows all the facets in place for a collection, but showcasing just the top facets by record count with an option to expand is part of the future development plan for the system.

There are a few collections where just going only with FAST headings didn’t make sense, and I thought I would highlight them in this post and ask to see what other people might be doing with custom facets for their digital collections. One of the developers at the library, Alan Witkowski, implemented custom faceting for our Sanborn maps collection, where patrons can browse by year and by location. A librarian, Jessica Colbert, recently completed metadata enhancements in our Football Videos collection, which blends FAST headings for the teams, along with high interest facets specific to that collection such as “Away Games” and “Losses”.

Just having the ability to easily create custom facets for digital collections when we weren’t able to do that before is opening up new possibilities for digital collections at the University of Utah. For those of you who have added FAST headings to your digital collections, have you also run into situations where you wanted to add some additional faceting terms? What were your strategies for doing so? Feel free to share here, in a future guest post or in comments on this blog!

Anna Neatrour is the Digital Initiatives Librarian at the University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library. You can find her on twitter as @annaneat.

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