Hooligans in the Archives: Easing Restrictions and Partnering with the Users

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Archival reference has changed dramatically with the advent of the web which challenged archivists to rethink their role as gatekeepers of archival materials. Traditionally, archival reference tools and materials were difficult to gain access to or required meditation by archivists. Archivists moved from gatekeepers to innovators, by putting reference tools and digital surrogates of collections online. But as with any new step, there are challenges. The traditional archival tension in trying to balance access and preservation has morphed. As access has changed, preservation concerns have given way to control concerns. Archivists are now poised to take the next step by engaging the users, sharing control over collections and potentially empowering the users to become true partners in the reference and research experience.

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