SAA Session 503: “More Access, Less Process: Practical Born-Digital Access at Scale”

This session featured archivists from the American Heritage Center (AHC) at the University of Wyoming discussing their efforts to provide users access to born-digital materials.

Irlanda Jacinto described the AHC as an “access-driven institution” – fast, open, and responsive.  They create a catalog record and trunk EAD, which make the records discoverable in the catalog.

Amanda Stow reported that the digital files aren’t indexed.  If patrons want to download materials, they must purchase a flash drive from the AHC.  The patron agreement specifies that users are responsible for abiding by any copyright restrictions.

Tyler Cline described their process of ingesting a backlog of 1.5TB from physical material.  They developed an home-grown system because the vendor solutions they investigated seemed either incomplete or too expensive.  They have a dark archive and also produce access copies.  The in-house computer used by patrons is locked down with read-only access.  The system requires active intervention by an archivist to map user access to particular folders — in the survey, patrons reported resentment of this process.  Users also resented the limitation of only being able to access born-digital records in the reading room.  In response to the survey, the AHC moving forward plans to move restricted files up one level in the file structure so an archivist doesn’t have to monitor access within a folder.  He also contended that patrons need to be educated that access won’t be a Google-like search because the files aren’t indexed — instead, access looks more like a database, with a finding aid as an access point.

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