Digital Archive: Faces of GEMSA

As more data, documents, and files are born-digital, institutions are sorting out how to preserve these materials so they can be accessed now and in the future. In a digital archives class I learned about all the challenges that an institution has to consider when they take on archiving digital content. Such issues include digital infrastructure, content management systems, metadata, information architecture, and digital rights management.

For a final assignment, I had to design an “ideal” archive (although not full implement it) using the setting and content of my choice. I worked with classmates Meredith Brown and Eric Mortensen to design a website for the fictitious GEM School for the Arts (GEMSA). This school was interested in preserving artistic works of current, former and future students. The purpose was multi-faceted: to create a sense of community, provide inspiration to current students, connect students and alumni, and preserve the history of the institution. Faces of GEMSA, the name of this digital initiative, was inspired by traditional institutional repositories and commercial portfolio websites, with an additional social media aspect.

This assignment involved writing a design document, designing wireframes, and presenting our project ideas. Since we weren’t actually executing our project, the wireframes acted as a visual representation of our ideas. One of my tasks on the team was create the wireframes.


Figure 1. Faces of GEMSA: User interface

The user interface will offer the ability to update profile information and upload project documents. Included are links to extensive help documentation, recent news stories regarding the repository, testimonials from other users, and the ability to chat with users online. It also includes a display of the user’s current profile rating.


Figure 2. Faces of GEMSA: Public interface

The public interface will offer an AJAX-driven, faceted search. Users can expand or narrow queries based on faceted search criteria. With the exception of free text search fields for names and keywords, fields such as dates, majors, and mediums will be authority controlled.


Figure 3. Faces of GEMSA: Profile page

The profile page displays biographical information as entered by the student. It also displays a thumbnail image and short description for each project.

Credits for images used in Figures 1-3:


About Gina Shelton

I am a Reference Clerk at the Pratt Institute Libraries' Brooklyn campus and am currently working on my MSLIS.
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