Gettin Sh*t Done in the Digital Archives
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We live in a reality where official documents are born, revised and disseminated online. Most post-secondary institutions have record retention schedules to facilitate the transfer of official records with lasting historical value to the archives. Implementing similar practices in the online environment is challenging, in part due to an organizational culture that does not view websites as official university records, but rather as transactional, fluid spaces, despite the fact that such spaces are increasingly the only source of important documents. In addition, economic pressures and cutbacks in the university sector makes enterprise level electronic records keeping systems out of reach for many. These challenges cannot be met with a single solution. We need to work strategically to collaborate on long-term plans to ensure that born-digital records find their way into the archives. We will focus on our efforts within the library to capture and preserve a selection of websites and communications that document York’s campus activities, in a manner that is systematic and accessible. We will report on our efforts to pilot this approach both within the university environment and in the wider community. We will reflect on our efforts to share our practice, successes and failures publicly, working within events in which we have a personal or philosophical investment. A keynote speaker at a recent archival conference admonished the profession that “once one becomes an activist, one has lost one’s perspective and objectivity as a public servant.” We aim to test this assertion and demonstrate that ‘active’ professionals can contribute to the preservation of our own institutional memory, and document the wider online social movements shaping our collective experience.
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