On July 15, 2002, a new version of the Online Archive of California (OAC) was released to the public at www.oac.cdlib.org.  The Online Archive of California (OAC) describes and provides access to over 6000 collections of primary source materials such as manuscripts, photographs, and works of art held in libraries, museums, archives, and other institutions across California.  The OAC and this latest enhancement could not have been accomplished without the hard work of many UC staff serving on the OAC working groups and producing and contributing finding aids.  The resource truly is a product of extensive collaboration, back to its origins at Berkeley.

The new OAC homepage simplifies browsing and searching the finding aids of the collections and, in many cases, digital versions of the photographs, manuscripts and other objects themselves.  The new interface is based upon software from the University of Michgan’s Library’s Digital Library eXtension Service (DLXS) for the provision of EAD encoded finding aids.

The OAC has finding aids for collections as diverse as the Japanese American Relocation photograph collection from the University of Southern California and the Keystone-Mast stereoscopic collection from the California Museum of Photography, among the thousands of collections from over 60 libraries, museums, and historical societies.

What’s the impact?
Compared to the already widely used interface for OAC, the new presentation of finding aids features improved searching, better access to finding aids that have online images, enhanced display options and faster delivery of content with the DLXS software.  For those familiar with the content or with the structure of finding aids, advanced search functions allow targeting a search to the title of finding aid, its full-text, including overview notes, or only the specific descriptions of collection contents.  While browsing finding aids or reviewing search results, icons indicate when digital versions of the source materials are available.  Users will have the ability to limit a search to finding aids that include online images.

In order to provide time for current OAC users to explore the new interface, the old interface (via Dynaweb) will continue to be available until December 31st, 2002. Since the OAC’s 1993 origins as the Berkeley Finding Aid Project (BFAP), a form of the SGML-based publishing system known as Dynaweb has been the software foundation for the OAC finding aids.

Future enhancements
In future releases, the OAC team plans to offer users more direct searching for the digitized source materials and increase the ability to search across multiple formats (finding aids, online texts, online images, online multimedia) at once.  These enhancements to the discovery and use of these unique materials are meant to complement the growth of the OAC itself, with many new collections being prepared for addition.

The OAC is hosted by the California Digital Library and draws its support from the University of California, the California State Library, and dozens of partner universities, museums, and archives.