I have been thinking a lot recently about advancements in technology and what challenges these changes have on me and will have in the future. For example, the new Charles library at Temple uses an automated storage retrieval system for most of its books. While I am sure this system has its benefits, I have been mostly frustrated with the inability to browse through the library stacks in a more traditional manner, as it provides a new and unique set of challenges to overcome. As I learned to navigate the new system at the library this week, I was reminded of Ian Milligan’s article, “Historian’s archival research looks quite different in the digital age.” Although libraries and archives operate differently, I see a number of similar challenges brought on as we progress through the digital age.

It is hard to deny the fact that most of us actively participate in the creation of digital abundance. From sending emails to sharing photos on Facebook, or engaging in dialogue on Twitter, we leave digital documents and objects behind that will become part of our historical record. This abundance of information being created and collected poses unique challenges to both archives and historians. Some archives, including those managed by government agencies, such as the National Archives, are implementing policies that will restrict acquisition to digital records only after December 2022. This age of digital abundance poses a number of unique benefits and challenges to historians and archivists that need to be addressed.
Such as …

  1. How will archivists handle the organization and care of the increasingly abundant number of digital records?
  2. How stable are the platforms that house digital records and how can we ensure preservation?
  3. How should researchers go about navigating such large-scale digital resources?
  4. How can historians become more digitally literate and aware regarding these new and upcoming challenges?