A Monolithic Endeavor: Creating a Digital Collection of Soil Profiles at the University of Idaho

Publication Date

May 2014


For over 60 years the Soil Science department at the University of Idaho (UI) has been preserving soil monoliths, which are 2 to 6 ft. vertical profiles of soil, from various locations around the United States. This collection of over 230 preserved soil monoliths is one of the largest in the world. Presently, these valuable and fragile structures hang virtually unprotected in the hallways of the Agricultural Science building. In 2012, the University of Idaho Library began collaborating with key soil science faculty to digitize photographs of this collection, with the dual purpose of preservation and creation of an educational resource. This paper will discuss the process of constructing the UI digital soil monolith collection, including: the planning stages, design considerations, and complexities encountered throughout. Also discussed will be the requirements for the collected metadata, so as to best represent the structure of soil taxonomy, while simultaneously creating an approachable site design for general audiences