Technology and Archival Processing

May 2011

While librarianship was transformed in the later part of the 20th century by technological innovations in access and retrieval, a similar revolution did not happen in archival practices. Traditional processes for the arrangement and description of archives and special collections are resource-intensive and have created a backlog of valuable research material. This backlog will soon be amplified by the addition of born-digital content. Archivists will need new tools and work flows to process hybrid collections of both digital and analog content. At the same time, the expectations of scholars and other researchers have increased and shifted to include a blend of old and new ways to discover, access, and use collections.

The workshop on technology and archival processing aimed to leverage technology to improve access to archival information. It sought to increase awareness in the subject, to start cross disciplinary relationships and to broaden the base of interested parties. The workshop brought together computer scientists and archivists to discuss innovative technology to create maximum access to manuscript and archival collections which have remained inaccessible to researchers for too long and looked for new ways to deploy computer science in all areas of archival work. We attempted to build bridges, first to technologists -- to enlist their help identifying technological solutions to defeat backlogs -- then to archivists, who need to leverage new technology to move from manual to digital processing -- and finally to users, to provide them with collections in ways that meet and exceed their research and teaching needs and expectations.