New Media and the Archive

One difficulty I’ve had this semester when considering what to write for this blog has been finding news stories about archives. While I knew I had other options and could have spoken more about in class readings, I liked the idea of responding to news stories a bit better. But consistently when I would try to search for such news much of the results of these searches would be populated with “from our archives” stories put out by newspapers, literary publications, and occasionally archives. In class we spoke more than once about archival interactions with the public, public perception of the archives themselves, and the sort of outreach and education that archivists do in general. For some of the newspapers I imagine a mix of nostalgia as well as a wish to feed the ever-growing hunger for endless content that rules our neverending newscycle is responsible for some of these posts. For literary publications these posts can act as a way of drawing attention or even riding the wave of public to a particular author or subject with a well timed post. For archives, the impulse to post mini virtual tours(a favorite of mine from the past year was a showcase from YIVO of some truly alarming wooden puppets on their instagram page) and interesting finds is out of a desire to increase engagement with the archive and bring in those who might not realize the diversity and breadth of what archives can hold. It’s something to think about how there is a seemingly unending demand for content present in our current society while at the same time there is an enormous backlog of untouched and unexamined materials in archives. There is a question of access and interest that does explain this, and this is not a critique of archives for not courting more engagement. It’s more something to consider for the future. Certain new media projects like podcasts could possibly drive more engagement with archives though there is the matter of how much labor that would require. Still, for certain universities this could be something to consider and collaborate on with students.

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