TARO 2018 and beyond

Hello TARO!

We’ve come to the end of another productive year. I’ve enjoyed serving as your Steering Committee Chair throughout the year! The in-coming 2019 Steering Committee members are:

Chair: Carla Alvarez, UT Libraries, Benson Latin American Collection, c.alvarez@austin.utexas.edu

Vice-Chair: Rebecca Romanchuk, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, rromnchk@tsl.texas.gov

Secretary: Irene Lule, University of Texas, Harry Ransom Center, irenelule@utmail.utexas.edu

At-large member (2018-2019, 2 year term): Samantha Dodd, Southern Methodist University, smdodd@smu.edu

At-large member (2018-2019, 2 year term): Paul Fisher, Baylor University, Paul_Fisher@baylor.edu

At-large member (2018-2020, 3 year term): Robert Weaver, Texas Tech University, robert.g.weaver@ttu.edu

UT Libraries representative: Aaron Choate, UT Libraries, achoate@austin.utexas.edu

Immediate Past Chair: Sandra Yates, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library, syates@library.tmc.edu

Programmers are J.J. Bennett and Joanna Jackson, UT Libraries, lib-taro@austin.utexas.edu

Thank You!
I’d like to thank the Steering Committee members that are rolling off the committee this year. Amanda Focke served as Immediate Past Chair, Chair of the Governance subcommittee, and Chair of the QA subcommittee for the Summerlee Project. Carol Mead served as Steering Committee Secretary for three years. I’m sure we’ll still see them around in TARO circles. Another huge thank you to Amy Bowman and her hard work as Chair of the Funding subcommittee pulling the NEH grant together and getting the award from the Summerlee Foundation. Finally to all the TARO members, thank you for your feedback throughout the year, your service on subcommittees, and, most importantly, submitting finding aids. TARO is growing, and we can’t do it without you!

2018 Major Accomplishments
University of Texas Libraries became TARO’s official institutional home

We received funding from the Summerlee
Foundation for our New Member Initiative Project, which is a 5-year project to encode finding aids and increase member participation in TARO. The QA subcommittee is already reviewing a small test batch of EAD XML files from the vendor, Digital Divide Data (DDD).

We submitted the implementation grant application to the NEH to improve TARO’s platform, technical infrastructure, and website.

New TARO URL Surveys
Thanks again for your feedback about possible TARO domain names! This will be in many cases the first impression of TARO in the years to come, and we want to make sure that it suits us.  During the Steering Committee meeting on December 17th, we had a lively discussion about the results–the whys, pros, and cons for each (see minutes, 2018-12-17.docx). None of them are a perfect fit, and I understand the feedback that I’ve received over the last few months. The Steering Committee decided to table the topic until next year, hoping for more perspectives from users, general public (potential users) as well as in terms of effective branding. So during the holidays and in the coming months, ask your researchers, family, and  your neighborhood marketing and graphic designers about what would be the best domain name for TARO. Feel free to send me any feedback, syates@library.tmc.edu.

Looking ahead to 2019
TARO Today blog will be moved to a UT sites page
The blog is where we share the latest news, How-To Tutorials, and details about TARO membership.

February 25: Introduction to TARO: Encoding and Submitting Finding Aids
Amy Bowman and Amanda Focke will be teaching a workshop at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in Austin.

Learn hands-on basic skills needed to participate in TARO, including basic XML familiarity and editing, EAD familiarity, how to upload files to TARO, and troubleshooting.

You can register through SSA. $85 (full day) or $50 (half day)

March: We will hear from NEH about the implementation grant awards.

May: Pending grant funds, the three-year implementation project to improve TARO’s platform and website will begin.

May 30: New TARO membership period deadline for July.

November 30: New TARO membership period deadline for January

Summerlee Project will upload new findings aids for participating repositories and welcome five more new members to TARO.

Stay in Touch
TARO working wiki: http://texastaro.pbworks.com/
TARO Best Practices Guidelines: http://bit.ly/2AIonsy

If you have anything to add about the accomplishments of TARO and its members, please share with us.

Thanks again and see you in 2019!

Sandra Yates
Chair, 2018 TARO Steering Committee

Summer 2018 TARO updates

TARO submitted an implementation grant to the NEH in July 2018

  • This grant funding would support major updates to our site.
  • Thanks to TARO members for their input, and to TARO committee members for all their excellent work to assemble this application!
  • NEH response is expected in Spring 2019, with funded projects beginning May 2019.

TARO submitted and was awarded a Summerlee Foundation grant!

  • This grant will fund the XML encoding of hundreds of Word finding aids.
  • Work will being in Fall 2018, with 5 new TARO members: Harris County Archives, Menil Collection, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum Research Center, Fort Worth Jewish Archives, and the Catholic Archives of Texas.

Stay tuned for annual TARO Steering Committee elections coming up this Fall 2018. We want you!

TARO community feedback about EAD Best Practice Guidelines

Hello TARO Community,

Earlier this year the TARO Standards Subcommittee shared with you that we have been tasked with assessing the level of adoption of the TARO Best Practice Guidelines, among other things. You can check out the Standards wiki page to learn about what our group has been doing this past year.

This message is to ask you to share your thoughts with us. Let us know what you think of the TARO Best Practice Guidelines, both what you like and what you don’t like. We want to know if you are using the best practice guidelines document, and if you are not, to learn why.

You can provide your feedback by completing this brief survey.

You don’t have to be your repository’s designated TARO representative. If you create finding aids that are added to TARO, we want to hear from you!

Please complete the survey by Friday, November 3.

TARO nominations for Steering Committee

Dear TARO representatives,

TARO would like your participation in forming the next TARO Steering Committee. To that end we ask for nominations as described in the TARO Bridge Governance plan:
 “Steering Committee members may be nominated until two weeks before an election. Self­-nomination is permitted. Candidates for the Steering Committee will provide brief statements detailing their reasons for running and provide a summary of their qualifications to the Nominating Committee. These statements will be distributed electronically to TARO members at least one week prior to the elections.  For the formal vote in October, each member institution may submit one vote (ballot).”

Nominations accepted (by this online form) until Wednesday November 1, 2017.

The slate will then be distributed, with online voting opening Wednesday November 15 ending Tuesday November 21, 2017 (also by an online form).

Thanks so much  for nominating candidates for the Steering Committee,
TARO chair, Amanda Focke (afocke@rice.edu) and vice-chair, Sandra Yates (sandra.yates@library.tmc.edu)

Current list of steering committee members: http://texastaro.pbworks.com/w/page/73447661/TARO%20wiki%20home

TARO Index Terms survey results

Dear TARO community,

Thank you all who participated in the Index Terms survey we sent out in May. We are writing to share with you the results of the survey and to let you know that the TARO Steering Committee will further investigate/peruse the Metadata Hopper software option based on feedback received from survey. See below for survey results.

Question 1: Is your repository able to check all Index Terms (Names, Subjects, Document Types, and Titles) in the <controlaccess> section in your EAD files before uploading to TARO to verify that the terms match the authorized version of the term and that the encodinganalog and source attribute values are assigned correctly?

The majority of responders indicated that they do check all their terms or at least try to verify them. Some are not able to check them and others are not sure whether this is done before upload to TARO.


Question 2: Do you believe your repository has the necessary resources (staff time and expertise) to retrospectively review your EAD files’ <controlaccess> terms and edit them as needed to use the authorized vocabulary terms if TARO provided a report of what terms need to be updated?

 Several people indicated that they believe their institution has the resources or can plan for the next fiscal year to embark on a project to do a data clean-up project. The comments indicate that people could do a cleanup project (after TARO provided a report) as long as there was ample time (no tight deadlines); responders asking for flexibility.


Question 3: In addition to controlled lists of local terms would it cause practical/logistical problems for your institution if TARO decided to require that EAD files use specific controlled vocabularies, such as Library of Congress Name Authority File and Subject Headings, and Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, for <controlaccess> terms going forward?

 Most people replied that they do not foresee any problems if TARO required a controlled vocabulary but asked for the flexibility of still being able to use some local terms that follow controlled vocabulary conventions (e.g. follow LCNAF conventions to create an entry). Again people ask for flexibility and/or training (specifically referring to AAT).


Question 4:  Would your repository be willing to have its TARO finding aids sorted into broad TARO subject categories to enhance user experience in browsing? For an example, see the Chicago Collections site (http://explore.chicagocollections.org/)

Good news! Nearly everyone who responded said their institution would be willing to have broad subject terms applied to their finding aids. There was one blank response and one person said that this would be okay as long as there was no additional work incurred on their staff.


Question 5: Do you have additional comments or questions?

Most people had no comments. Five comments were submitted (mainly from Steering Committee members).



TARO Steering Committee

TARO conversion to schema formatted EAD file complete!

Exciting news! All current TARO repositories have  successfully gone through conversion of their files to schema format, and are now able to submit only schema compliant files.

Thank you to everyone for your work on this effort!


Extra special thanks to Minnie Rangel at UT Libraries for helping us through  with her wonderful processing scripts, helpful error reports, and friendly communications.

TARO is better positioned now to move forward with upgrades once we submit our implementation grant request and are funded. We are currently settling some outstanding questions of governance and sustainability, and then plan to submit our implementation grant request in Summer 2018.

Contact Amanda Focke, TARO Steering Committee chair 2017

TARO Index Terms Survey

Dear TARO participants,

 We need your input to plan our path forward in relation to the Index Terms (also known as <controlaccess> terms) such as personal and corporate names, subject terms, and genre terms used in finding aids submitted to TARO.

 As you may know, TARO has not in the past strictly required use of a particular controlled vocabulary, and repositories have used what fit their collections. This has resulted in a rather wide variety of headings in TARO, raising concerns for the user’s experience in trying to browse TARO by index terms. Imagine for example, browsing across all name, subject, or format headings in TARO – there would be similar headings with minor differences in them, some finding aids with many headings and some with few, some with ending punctuation and others with none, some with local headings, some with only authorized headings.

 We are therefore exploring whether it makes sense to either:

1.) Engage in TARO-wide index term clean up work (with repository participation / approval) and require use of only specific vocabularies going forward or

2.) Leave repositories to use vocabularies as they wish, and implement software (Metadata Hopper) to apply broad subject categories for browsing purposes. A program using this software is the [explore.chicagocollections.org]Chicago Collections.

 Many repositories will have varied answers to these questions, please just answer as best you can. The information will not be publicized; it will only be used to get an honest view for planning purposes.

 Please answer our very brief survey by Friday June 2, 2017.

TARO workshop coming up May 2017

Hello fellow TARO folks —

Amy Bowman and I are excited to offer a TARO workshop May 24, 2017,
at the Society of Southwest Archivists annual meeting,
located this year in beautiful Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Watch for registration through the Society of Southwest Archivists, opening soon.

The workshop has a max size of 15 participants, so sign up early if you are interested.
If there is a wait list, we can discuss a Winter offering in a Texas location.

Here is a description:

Introduction to TARO: Encoding and Submitting Finding Aids

Date: Wednesday, May 24

Time: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm (full day) 1.00 – 5.00 pm (half-day)

Cost: $100.00 (full day – price includes box lunch)/$50.00 (half-day)

Location: SSA Conference Hotel (info)

Trainer: Amy Bowman and Amanda Focke


This workshop will teach the hands-on basic skills needed to participate in TARO, including basic XML familiarity and editing, EAD familiarity, how to upload files to TARO, and troubleshooting. The full day is recommended for those with little or no TARO, EAD, or XML experience. The half-day (afternoon only) is recommended as a refresher for those who might feel rusty and/or have work environment changes which have changed their approach to TARO (such as using collection management software now instead of hand-encoding XML). The workshop is open to anyone but is focused on TARO guidelines and workflows.

This is not an intensive EAD course, or an intensive XML class, but will show the basics to get you started and share resources to help you once you return to your workplace.

Would you like a detailed class specifically on EAD/XML?
Amigos is offering such a class live-online (four 2-hr sessions), in March 2017.
Get the details here: http://www.amigos.org/node/3587

All best,
Amanda Focke
Rice University
TARO Steering Committee Chair, 2017

TARO grant and Steering Committee Update

Dear TARO members,

As we move into the next phase of the TARO infrastructure update, Amanda Focke and I wanted to send out an update about our NEH planning grant and share the next steps for the TARO Steering Committee.

The final version of our NEH planning grant may be reviewed here. Our deepest thanks go out to all of you who helped make this grant happen with your participation on TARO committees this year—we accomplished a whole lot during the grant term! Amanda and I were especially pleased that we were able to include a Memorandum of Understanding with UT Libraries in the final report. A special thanks goes out to Aaron Choate from UT Libraries for writing the MOU and steering it through UT Libraries’ administration. Note that the MOU covers just the interim grant phase, it is not a final determination of TARO’s institutional home. However, this MOU does provides us with a solid home base from which to apply for implementation funds.

TARO will now head into a new phase with its the Steering Committee, which will be a smaller group over the coming months: Amanda Focke will serve as Chair, Sandra Yates will serve as Vice-Chair, Carol Mead will serve as Secretary, and Carla Alvarez, Ann Hodges, and Kelly Kerbow-Hudson will be our At-Large Reps. In addition, Aaron Choate will become much more involved with the TARO Steering Committee, acting as the UT Libraries representative on the committee. Steering Committee members will no longer chair subcommittees.

We hope that everyone who’d like to be involved the TARO implementation project will continue to do so through TARO subcommittees; we expect that subcommittee work will begin ramping up again in the New Year after the new Steering Committee has had a chance to meet.

There’s a lot to look forward to with TARO over the next year, including the continuation  and conclusion of the schema conversion project, planning for submission of the implementation grant, continued discussions regarding TARO’s institutional home, and ongoing updates to TARO spaces like the blog and wiki. In addition, Amanda and I are also happy to announce that we’ll be giving a TARO training workshop at SSA in Fayetteville in May 2017.


Amy and Amanda


Amy Bowman, Outgoing Co-Chair, TARO Steering Committee Photographs Archivist, Briscoe Center for American History

Feedback for governance plan / Nominations for next Steering Committee

Dear TARO representatives,

1.) The TARO Steering Committee is wrapping up its NEH Planning Grant, and would like to take steps to formalize its committee structure while working toward writing an implementation funding grant. Please see the TARO Bridge Governance Plan online here. Comments are welcome and will be accepted through September 30, 2016. Please submit comments to the TARO list or to the current TARO co-chairs, Amy Bowman (a.bowman@austin.utexas.edu) and Amanda Focke (afocke@rice.edu).

TARO would like your participation in forming the next TARO Steering Committee. To that end we ask for nominations as described in the Bridge Governance plan:
 “Steering Committee members may be nominated until two weeks before an election. Self­-nomination is permitted. Candidates for the Steering Committee will provide brief statements detailing their reasons for running and provide a summary of their qualifications to the Nominating Committee. These statements will be distributed electronically to TARO members at least one week prior to the elections.  For the formal vote in October, each member institution may submit one vote (ballot).”
Nominations accepted (by this online form) until October 7, 2016,
the slate will then be distributed, with online voting opening Friday Oct 21 ending Friday Oct. 28, 2016 (also by an online form).

Thanks so much for offering any feedback on the governance plan and for nominating candidates for the Steering Committee,
TARO co-chairs, Amanda Focke (afocke@rice.edu) and Amy Bowman (a.bowman@austin.utexas..edu)

Current list of steering committee members: https://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/admin/staff.html