Checkout System, Stage 2: Request the Hardware

In the last post, I discussed the first stage of the checkout system/workflow: stabilize and maintain the hardware. Processing and cataloging the hardware on site – and hardware in future collections – gives the Briscoe an opportunity to prepare the items for and track them during in-Reading Room research requests.

In this post, the hypothetical research team has arrived at the Briscoe to make their request. They would like to checkout a Mattel Intellivision II in order to research game emulation.

The team enters the Briscoe and approaches the information desk. After the preliminary orientation and paperwork, the researchers discuss the reason for their visit:

“We wish to do some research on video game emulation and would like to use some of the materials in the UT Videogame Archive.”

Information Desk: “Great! Do you already have an idea about which materials? Which collections?”

Researchers: “We do. We are looking to work with the Frogger game that works with the Intellivision II. We checked through TARO and noticed that there were 2 Mattel Intellivision IIs in the Billy Cain Collection.”

For the purposes of the trial run, I created an abbreviated TARO record for the appropriate section of the Billy Cain Finding Aid.


Note that the SKU#s are the same as those on the Master Hardware List.

The staff and the researchers use the TARO record to find the console. The request is made using the console’s SKU# with the UTVA Hardware Request Slip (seen below) that I created specifically for this project. As previously mentioned, the relationship between an item and its SKU# is considered unbreakable. Using a SKU# allows one to request an item even if its location has shifted over time, provided the location has been changed on the Hardware Master Inventory List.


One might notice that the slip is rather large, especially when compared to other request slips used at the Briscoe. I designed the slip to handle both a research request for an entire gaming system and one or more objects like when Rachel Simone Weil created her exhibition “Hardware Not Responding”.

In the previous stage, I introduced the UTVA Wiki page that is hosted on the Briscoe Center’s Digital Archive Wiki when talking about the UTVA Hardware Master Inventory List. During the preparation for the checkout system and its trial run, I also created a UTVA ‘informational packet’ that Briscoe staff can use when a patron requests hardware. This packet is hosted on the UTVA Wiki page in the “Reference and Access” section. Part of this packet includes written instructions and guidelines that can be referenced during the different stages of the process. The image below shows instructions that pertain to the request stage.


One of the best aspects of the informational packet (and, to a larger extent, the UTVA Wiki) is its currency. The Wiki is a ‘living’ access tool that can be updated as necessary. It will make appearances in the stages that follow.

Reference staff and the team use the SKU# from the finding aid to request the console via the request slip.

In the next post, we will shift to the 3rd stage in the process: Locating and Retrieving the hardware.



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