By Jess Farrell and Sarah Dorpinghaus
Note: This recap was originally posted to the Society of American Archivists’ bloggERS series about access to born-digital materials. It has been re-posted with the authors’ permission.
An ad-hoc born-digital access group with the Digital Library Federation recently held two successful and informative #bdaccess Twitter chats that scratched the surface of the born-digital access landscape. The discussions aimed to gain insight on how researchers want to access and use digital archives and included questions on research topics, access challenges, and discovery methods.
Here are a few ideas that were discussed during the two chats:
- Researchers are interested in using Twitter data, information from contemporary newspapers, geospatial data and more, but social media and other web content is high on the list of what is currently being requested.
- A lack of standard naming conventions in born-digital accessions creates a challenge in providing access.
- Researchers struggle with data management.
- Other challenges include software licensing and terms of service.
- Many important born-digital records are not held in an archive.
- Archivists struggle with determining how much is enough documentation for born-digital records.
- There is a need to educate researchers and archivists and reference teams on the potential uses of born-digital materials.
- There’s no one-size-fits-all model for access and user testing is needed to establish what does work.
You can search #bdaccess on Twitter to see how the conversation evolves or view the complete conversation from these chats on Storify.
The Twitter chats were organized by a group formed at the 2015 SAA annual meeting. We are currently developing a bootcamp to share ideas and tools for providing access to born-digital materials and have teamed up with the Digital Library Federation to spread the word about the project. Stay tuned for future chats and other ways to get involved!
Jess Farrell is the curator of digital collections at Harvard Law School. Along with managing and preserving digital history, she’s currently fixated on inclusive collecting, labor issues in libraries, and decolonizing description.
Sarah Dorpinghaus is the Director of Digital Services at the University of Kentucky Libraries Special Collections Research Center. Although her research interests lie in the realm of born-digital archives, she has a budding pencil collection.