The Digitization of Archives: In Case of Emergency or the New Normal? An Overdue Conversation with Peter Hirtle

Martin-Hardin, Amanda

As the COVID-19 pandemic compelled libraries and archives worldwide to close their doors indefinitely, stranded researchers were compelled to radically reimagine what a visit to the archive might look like. Rather than scrutinizing text amid the dust of decaying paper in a Special Collections Reading Room, these researchers found themselves poring over digitized documents bathed in the light of their computer screens. The relevance of organizations like HathiTrust and the Internet Archive, which are committed to the task of document digitization, has been felt perhaps most urgently during this pandemic. But their current prominence simply refocuses our attention upon a larger and long-ongoing debate regarding the digitization of archival materials. What are the benefits of the digitization of archives, and what are its drawbacks? How might libraries and archives, conceptualized initially as physical spaces of knowledge, be reimagined as digitization offers both prospects and challenges to their institutional structures and ethos? How does the impetus for digitization confront long-standing principles of fair use and copyright? In this episode we discuss both the role of controversial institutions like the Internet Archive today and the larger stakes of this debate on digitization with archivist and copyright scholar Peter Hirtle.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Overdue Conversations
Published Here
November 29, 2022


This episode's duration is: 44:36