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Accessibility and Digital Language Archives 101

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Title: Accessibility and Digital Language Archives 101
Issue Date: 12 Mar 2015
Description: In the long history of archives as repositories of records and information, the issue of accessibility was not especially problematic until relatively recently. Before the digital information age, if someone wanted to consult records in an archive, s/he had to physically go to that archive; if he met the archival institution’s requirements, he was allowed access to the records. There were, of course, access restrictions on certain records or collections, but these restrictions were noted in the collection guides and/or catalogs. Thus, the physical distance between the user and the archive was the primary reason for lack of access to archival materials, and the archivist served as the gatekeeper between the user and the records.

With the advent of the Internet, the increase in born-digital data, and the widespread use of WiFi technology, digital information has become extraordinarily easy to find or discover. Every year more and more archives make some or all of their holdings—or at least their metadata—available to an increasingly broader audience via the Internet, thus eliminating the physical distance between the user and the archive. Today passwords and digital security protocols—not archivists—are the gatekeepers of archival information. However, while the archival materials are easier to find or discover than they ever were before, issues surrounding the accessibility of these materials are becoming more and more difficult to negotiate.

In this poster, I examine issues of accessibility that digital language archives have to address on a daily basis. I consider how accessibility issues interact with access restrictions, intellectual property rights, copyright, and questions of informed consent. I highlight some examples of governmental and institutional requirements, as well as examples of speech community requirements, and illustrate how these various requirements interact with the accessibility of archival materials. Finally, I present some ways in which issues of accessibility interact with a researcher’s decision to entrust language data to local versus non-local archives.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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