Connecting Historical and Digital Frontiers: Enhancing Access to the Latah County Oral History Collection Utilizing OHMS (Oral History Metadata Synchronizer) and Isotope Academic Article uri icon



  • The University of Idaho Library received a donation of oral histories in 1987 that were conducted and collected by a local county historical society in the 1970s. The audio cassettes and transcriptions were digitized in 2013 and 2014, producing one of the largest digital collections of oral histories – over 300 interviews and over 569 hours – in the Pacific Northwest. To provide enhanced access to the collection, the Digital Initiatives Department employed an open-source plug-in called the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) – an XML and PHP driven system that was created at the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries – to deliver the audio MP3 files together with their  indexes and transcripts. OHMS synchronizes the transcribed text with timestamps in the audio and provides a viewer that connects search results of a transcript to the corresponding moment in the audio file. This article will discuss how we created the infrastructure by importing existing metadata, customized the interface and visual presentation by creating additional levels of access using complex XML files, enhanced descriptions using the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus for keywords and subjects, and tagged locations discussed in the interviews that were later connected to Google Maps via latitude and longitude coordinates. We will also discuss the implementation of and philosophy behind our use of the layout library Isotope as the primary point of access to the collection. The Latah County Oral History Collection is one of the first successful digital collections created using the OHMS system outside of the University of Kentucky.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015

Additional Document Info


  • 29