12 June 2013

New Research Tools Kick Up Dust in Archives

This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Author  NOAA George E. Marsh Album, theb1365, Historic C&GS Collection
A recent New York Times article by John Markoff, New Research Tools Kick Up Dust in Archives talks about all kinds of issues with how we now do research that range from intellectual property to access fees to repository revenue sources to new tech tools for data mining to changes in how researchers research and much more.

For example, if patrons are now able to freely photograph (or scan) documents in a repositories’ collections and so the repository has decreased revenue, how does it accommodate that?  Are changes in personnel and operations also required?  As resources ($ and people) are re-purposed, are we losing some other important services?

The article ends with this statement ...

Now she often begins with electronic records. “Now my methodology has changed for the better in terms of efficiency. What’s lost in the change is the serendipity of what else might be in this box of materials, if I had gone there.”

I can identify with this statement.  With all the online access, we are often, in a way, reading an “abstract” created by someone.  How thorough is it?  What information is included or not?  What have we missed?  How often have we “trawled” through records and spotted something that has relevance and yet the “key term” was NOT indexed and so we could not have searched on it?!?!

We are certainly living in an ever evolving world as we do our research.  This is both exciting and stressful.  The key is to keep ALL that is good and not just rush forward and abandon “older” means of research which are still relevant!

What “repercussions” have you seen at your local archive as a result of all the new technologically-based research tools?  What has been good, bad and maybe even ugly?

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