Archives Research Center, Digital Services Department
Around 2007, the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library (AUC Woodruff Library) began advancing the goals of the then-Archives & Special Collections Department to increase access to primary resources and archival materials. Built upon a rich physical collection, the digital collections provided remote researchers with the opportunity to research holdings, request images for exhibition and publication, and incorporate materials into curriculum and scholarship.
In 2006 and 2010, the AUC Woodruff Library began serving as custodian for the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. (MCMLK) and the Tupac Amaru Shakur (TAS) Collections, respectively. Along with the fame associated with these high-profile collections came the need for increased security. The vast majority of the MCMLK Collection is digitized, as are the writings by Shakur and some of his group-mates. However, the agreements require MCMLK and TAS Collection to be made accessible only in the reading room of the Library.
In stark contrast to these two notable collections, the AUC Woodruff Library has been successful in creating digital collections open broadly and widely to anyone in the world with an internet connection. The Library’s digital collections consist of audio and visual recordings, theses and dissertations, photographs and documents. Additionally, the Library was recently awarded a National Endowment for Humanities grant to expand access to collections on African American religion – most of which will have some digitized elements. While substantially increasing the use of collections for digital humanities scholarship, archivists have noticed some frustration from researchers about limited accessibility of the MCMLK and TAS Collections. Staff from the AUC Woodruff Library’s Archives Research Center and Digital Services Unit would like to discuss this quandary with conference attendees. They will share experiences, and best practices for working with researchers and constituents to promote digital scholarship within the confines of both limited and broad accessibility.
Jackson, Andrea and Wiseman, Christine, "A Digital Quandary: Limited vs Broadly Accessible Collections" (2016). AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library Staff Publications. 12.