Subject guides as archival aids ?

16 Dec

I’m currently drafting up my bachelor project diploma and I’ve decided to focus my knowledge and expertise on archives. Incredibly, I always thought that libraries 2.0 would be my avenue to finish my studies but I realized that, in the last 2 years, there has been plenty on studies, presentations and case studies on the new technologies that libraries can implement to increase their visibility on the web.

There is an french expression that goes as following : ” On ne peut reinventer la roue “. Literally it means that we cannot reinvent the wheel, namely reinvent the library 2.0 trend (or more accurately for some Library 101). So why not focus my energy and my wits on a less traveled road : archives 2.0 ?

My usage of the internet, apart from daily digressions on Facebook and Twitter was mainly through genealogy and family history purposes and I’ve realized how much internet users want/need/demand to be spared the long archival descriptions of collections to go right down at the heart of the subject : the information they are looking for.

As a professional, I understand the need to describe as precisely as possible collections, sub-level items, child and parent objects, we need those practices to be able to organize and categorize the information and deliver it more efficiently to our patrons. But, instead of linking us to an archive repository where the user will see long lines of records description, part of a collection or links to indexes, censuses (etc.), how can we re-hash or re-mash these infos and present subject guides as a new research avenue.

Imagine, you are a student in first-year postgraduate in architecture/urbanism studies and your proposed thesis deals with the establishment of populations in a specific region due to various industries being built on site. You would be, possibly, interested in old charter plans, censuses and valuation rolls. So instead of pointing directly to those resources, we could offer (as a gateway) the same resources but categorized under subject headings familiar to the user. Our added value is the work already done behind the scenes, we present our content, our collections in a different way, we make archives less “dusty” and more user-friendly while keeping our good practices and our skills invaluable.

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