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HABS/HAER/HALS Upgrade at the Library of Congress

The heavily used Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey (HABS/HAER/HALS) collection at the Library of Congress (LOC) has been renewed and strengthened in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC). After several discouraging years in which aging software made it increasingly difficult to add new records and images to the on-line collection, the LOC can now take better advantage of the metadata that the National Park Service provides for more than 350,000 large-format photographs and drawings covering some 40,000 sites, and incorporate smoothly and efficiently the quarterly updates the National Park Service transmits.

Formerly, PPOC users could find HABS/HAER/HALS photographs and drawings only by viewing a survey record first. The recent adjustments standardize the HABS/HAER/HALS image displays and navigation to operate as the other collections in PPOC do; enable researchers searching across all the collections in PPOC to discover content they may not have noticed before; help researchers keep track of their findings, because each drawing and photograph has its own persistent URL ("handle"); allow researchers who want to concentrate on the survey-level groupings to continue to do so through an option to limit search results to "Surveys only"; and improve navigation and downloading of the written materials associated with the surveys, as they are now available as text-searchable PDF files.

Researchers who wish to continue to use the HABS/HAER/HALS materials available through American Memory ("Built in America") will be able to do so, but they should be aware that the American Memory collection can’t be updated because of the old software it uses. The most comprehensive and up-to-date HABS/HAER/HALS information will be available only through PPOC.

For more graphic examples of the improved features, see the Library of Congress’ "Picture This" blog post, "New Doors Open for the HABS/HAER/HALS Collection."