The archives at Temple really are an amazing resource, and to tour it getting a better picture of what goes on, seeing the physical rows of boxes makes the information more tangible. As students, when using online databases for the majority of the research we do in classes, disassociates us from the actual physicality of information and primary documents. The idea of an archive as a collection, a curated and connected body gets lost, jumbled in a constant stream of information that can often become confused as objective through isolation and disconnection based only on the researchers perhaps limited idea of what to search. With digitization comes a certain removal, the part separated from the whole, but also from the people, the archivists, who have worked to find connections and contexts in this body of information. John pointed out digitization and other methods to increase accessibility is part of what makes archiving public historical work, yet does this diminish other aspects of that practice, namely interpretation?
More aspects of interpretation were brought up when Josue also mentioned the idea of ownership and the mistrust of institutions pointing out the biases of who does the collecting and how that effects who can work with that material, and therefore interpret it. It asks the questions of who is telling the story through collecting certain things, or not collecting. So not only is there the level of interpretation between the material and the researcher, but between the archivist, the institution where things are being collected, and the people potentially represented through the documents, as well. The archivist has a greater responsibility to then mediate between these forces, mainly those coming in to do research, and the institution it answers to. Especially with people coming in to do research, the archivist has power to sway what they look at, the connections being made, and their overall understanding of how the material being looked at may interact with a larger context. Though the same levels of interpretation exist, this ability to oversee interpretation in a way where the archivist is literally the mediator between material and the individual is different from a museum or historical institution where it’s a given there is only so much a place can control in terms of how people respond to what is presented. So how far does the archivist go in determining how people use materials? Is curating and making that collection accessible enough, or should more be done?