If you are a librarian or archivist (and we are both), digitization and access to online materials dominate the professional workshops and publications. Our dilemma lies in resources and appraisal. Despite popular beliefs, you cannot digitize everything. Time, personnel, and server space won’t allow it even with the most generous financial support. Enter the archivist who must make some appraisal decisions. What gets chosen to live on the web is largely determined by two factors: fragility of materials and evidence of use. Use is an objective measurement of research value. The higher the research value, the greater the digitization imperative.
If you are a researcher, you likely don’t care how the materials get there as long as you can get at them or at least know where to look for them. You, the researcher, have more influence than you know. Users of AHF collections guide many of our choices. There were 23 researchers from around the world who used the Goldwater papers last year. This represents literally thousands of documents pulled, read, and copied. Here are the general research trends. Note that we consider it a trend when we get three requests for the same subject. These are listed below in no particular order.
So how to respond? First, we applied for and received funds that will support digitization of some but not all of the Goldwater papers. We’ve already started with the earliest news clipping scrapbooks. We are following that with microfilming 460+ reels of microfilm 1952-1976. Typically, when a researcher requests anything within the 1950s-1960s timeframe, we pull the corresponding scrapbooks and the microfilm which is poorly indexed. Why? Because very little remains in print from Barry Goldwater’s first two terms (1952-1964). Both sources are deteriorating. The microfilm digitization will take at least 12 weeks to complete. The full set should be available the end of November. Here is a list of microfilm that has been digitized onto CDs.