May 23, 2022

U. of Kentucky Libraries: New Web Search Technology to Aid Researchers Using Oral Histories

From Newswise:

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded the University of Kentucky Libraries a $195,853 National Leadership Grant to further develop their Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS). OHMS is a web-based system that allows users to search for specific terms within recorded oral history interviews. This tool will enable a wide variety of libraries and archives to enrich the use of digital oral history collections and will save considerable time for experienced and inexperienced researchers alike.

“The OHMS system is an ingenious development in synchronizing recorded oral histories with their transcriptions,” says Peggy A. Bulger, director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. “While early oral historians considered the transcription to be authoritative, modern researchers understand that the words of the speaker are the most accurate oral history document. Working with oral testimony, however, has always been difficult without the compromise of a transcription, and the OHMS system allows researchers to coordinate oral documents with their transcripts in a way that preserves the integrity of the oral history.”


The Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, under the direction of Doug Boyd, and Digital Library Services, under the direction of Eric Weig, at UK Libraries created OHMS to inexpensively and efficiently enhance access to and discovery of oral history online. The system provides users word-level search capability and a time-correlated transcript or index connecting the textual search term to the corresponding moment in the recorded interview online. The ability to pinpoint specific terms in lengthy oral history interviews will save the experienced researcher, as well as students or the general history enthusiast lots of time and effort.


Since its creation, the Nunn Center has used the OHMS system to upload more than 500 interviews in the past three years. To try an OHMS search of the Nunn Center’s oral history collections, visit the Kentuckiana Digital Library at

Read the C0mplete Announcement and View Demo Video

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.