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Providing Access to "Born Digital" Archival Data in an Era of Search Engines

Presenter 1
Margaret O. Adams
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Five years ago, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration launched an online search and retrieval tool for access to a selection of its “born digital” data records (the Access to Archival Databases (AAD), In the intervening years we have observed a variety of patterns in the use of this resource and in the types of records queried most frequently. Those patterns have, in turn, influenced the new series added to the resource. The volume of users and the queries they run, now averaging over five thousand daily, substantially exceed all measures of interpersonal reference demand in the National Archives’ custodial electronic records program. The growth and ubiquity of search engines during the same time period have influenced enhancements of the resource.

This presentation will offer an overview of these experiences and focus on the ways in which the online resource has had an impact on interpersonal reference services, and has resulted in an expansion of the population using archival digital records in the holdings of the National Archives. While some of the lessons learned are most relevant for other public archives, the overall impact of and rising expectations for the online environment in the public sphere have implications for the academic research environment as well.

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