The last class of the day before getting on with our Internet Archive project (which has been very instructive), was about providing access to archival collections. Good, common-sense advice was dished out which we all pretty much knew but were pleased to hear again:

We preserve because we expect access.
We must be able to derive one from the other.
We don’t have to let one dictate the other.
Access needs may drive decisions at ingest e.g. on metadata.
There are many ways to provide access.

We were advised to ‘preserve enough to tell the story’ and that good preservation refers to ‘preserving meaningful information through time’. Quotes like that can come in handy sometimes.

Of course, depending on the archive’s remit, there are various reasons why we might have to provide access (FOI) or restrict access (DPA). Fortunately only the latter applies to us right now. There was also a brief discussion about redacting certain information before providing access, something that we do in a way with MAV’s products and transcripts for security reasons before they are put on the public database. I don’t knnow if we do it to documents, too. Do we?

Finally, the OAIS standard clearly has a strong element dedicated to ensuring access. It’s based around knowing your ‘designated community’ which may be as broad as ‘people who can read english and use the internet’ (The National Archives) or as narrow as ‘my friends and family’ (imagine an online photo service like Flickr). As usual some of the best advice was about planning ahead, being proactive abouut offering ways to access material, seperating the preservation infrastructure from the access infrastructure and collaborating with other repositories.


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