Baldock – Question 4
4What do recent developments in archival representation mean for the use of specific archives in teaching and public engagement?
British Library Scholarship Student and PhD Student in English – University of Sheffield
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Although for reasons relating to privacy and data protection it may be some time before the digital archives of contemporary writers are made fully available, I would argue there is scope for these archives to be used eventually in teaching and public engagement.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Those digital archives that are already accessible, such as the Van Gogh, Bess of Hardwick, and Olive Schreiner digital editions of correspondence (as mentioned in my answer to Question 2), have opened up a huge number of primary sources to a much wider variety of people, including undergraduates and members of the public. In the past, access to these kinds of primary materials was limited to those who were able to travel to the libraries and repositories in which they are held. As in the case of Olive Schreiner’s letters, which reside in sixteen archives across three continents, manuscripts and archives are often scattered across the globe rather than held in one place, which makes tracking them down a difficult task. The fragile nature of many manuscripts also means that allowing groups of students to have direct access to a particular collection is, in most instances, impossible. With digitization, problems surrounding conservation and geographical location of materials can be overcome.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 It is my hope that born-digital archives will be made freely accessible to students and members of the public in the future. These archives could then be used as a valuable resource to compare with existing editions of letters, to study literary networks in the digital age, and to investigate the effects of technology in shaping the way we communicate.