The Alaska’s Digital Archives has been one of the most popular topics for this blog in its short lifespan so far. And the reason we didn’t have a Friday entry is because Mariecris was very busy with reference and Arlene was in an all-day meeting relating to the Alaska’s Digital Archives.
The Digital Archives began as a congressional appropriation over six years ago and was largely grant funded until about 2 years ago. But now that the startup grants are done, we have to figure out how to keep it going as a part of our own budgets. Now, that’s actually exciting news. Not the cost so much, but that all of us engaged in the project are determined to make sure the Digital Archives lasts a good long time.
Here’s why continuing the Digital Archives matters: every participant in the project has noticed an increase in the use of our materials since we started making things available through it. Even though all of us only have the tiniest proportion of our holdings digitized and available through the site, lots of people are discovering archival materials that may never before have thought about the value of these types of records. And as they discover one photo, or museum object, or oral history, or movie clip or diary or state government publication, it’s all a reminder that all of the archives and museums and libraries across Alaska have more and more materials on the subjects—it’s not just limited to what is available online!
So what does that mean? At its simplest, it means that Alaskans (and people worldwide, for that matter) have increased access and awareness of the resources available to them for research on a variety of topics: maybe it’s Alaskan Native history and cultures, state and territorial politics, journalism, public health issues, environmental matters, and just about anything you might want to research. Or maybe you just want to look at fun pictures of Alaskan kids. Go ahead. Type children into the search box. Better than 2000 hits and more coming every day. That ought to keep you occupied for a while!
Here’s one of our favorite kid photos from the Digital Archives, from a small photo album in the A&SC collections. You can click on the image to find all the information we have on it. Maybe you know who some of these children are. If you do, let us know. We’ll add it to the Digital Archives item record. And that will help out other researchers, too.