Queen's University (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Page: 1453
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
An online archival database, that is, an online database for a physical archive, typically holds a selection of specifically chosen documents to promote material archival research without offering access to the full files or folders within the scope of a larger digital environment. While such a pedagogical tool can be helpful as a finding aide for scholars and researchers interested in the holdings of an archive, and offer a way of knowing the possible holdings of an archive, it does not promote research based on context-specific areas of the archive, nor does it express the full range of holdings that scholars and non-scholars alike may wish to access. By relating my experience with the archive of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and its massive database of ethnographic documents, artefacts, and correspondence material, with a specific focus on a novel written by the author of a certain fonds held at the archive, I aim to show how a digital-commons database extends both the reach of the archives, and the researcher in making better connections between the holdings of the archives, as well as the possibilities for critical analysis of the documents held within them. Moving away from a market-based model of selling access to archival material, the digital-commons model opens up possibilities for producing collaborative frameworks between archivists, scholars, teachers, and the general public in order to produce viable pedagogical tools founded on the need for access to information.
Funded by the Editing Modernism in Canada project, a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant for a Research Knowledge Cluster, my work is focused on producing a print edition of a Canadian novel with a digital apparatus alongside the edition. Having little to no digital access to the specific files that would complement the edition, my research has led me to conclude that a digital repository with encoded versions of ancillary documents is necessary to the understanding of the text itself, and that of the archival holdings at the museum. My project has also led me to consider the general focus of a physical archive, and the pros and cons of digitizing archival materials. To produce a digital database of large material archives would require massive amounts of time, money, space, and resources, and there are further issues of copyright and access. Yet, in producing a collaborative framework from which scholars in the digital humanities can work alongside, and with archives to produce context-specific databases, the step can begin to create larger, connected digital spaces from which archival communities can grow online. By integrating research models with archival holdings, it is possible to produce archival databases that go beyond simple explanatory models of research.