History, Digitized (and Abridged)
The New York Times
ran a lengthy article
about the state of digital archives in the United States. Edward L. Ayers, a historian and dean of the college and graduate school of arts and sciences at the University of Virginia stressed that, “There's an illusion being created that all the world's knowledge is on the Web, but we haven't begun to glimpse what is out there in local archives and libraries.” I think there is a lot to this. Many libraries are still not ready–or they haven't found a way to creatively manage their budgets so as to shift resources to digitization efforts–to create a digital collection that rivals–or at least accurately represents–their physical collection. This does not mesh well with the expectations of many young–and old–researchers who expect to call up every relevant resource using simple web searches. Although I agree with documentary artist Ken Burns that it is worth traveling to archives, it is oftentimes too expensive for many researchers to do this. Following the general consensus of this article, I firmly believe that a major imperative for libraries in the near future will be to digitize their entire collection so that the research gaps portrayed in this article will begin shrinking.