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Abstract

Providing access to original materials is an ethical responsibility for all professional archivists. In the Code of Ethics for Archivists, access is the sixth tenet, stating that archivists not only provide equal and open access to records, they preserve the intellectual integrity of collections. In an analog environment, this responsibility is somewhat straightforward and uncomplicated. However, technology has advanced rapidly over the past decade, and digitization projects are at the forefront of library and archival news. In a digital world, the once-simple tasks of promoting access to original materials and preserving their intellectual integrity are far more complicated. Although digitization has the potential to increase greatly a repository’s patron base, complex decisions arise for archivists when contemplating this path. Institutions must expend more of their resources and staff to replicate digitally the value of analog collections. Many of these problems have been examined before, so I will address an issue that has been largely disregarded by archival literature: the necessity of placing digital collections within a broader social and historical context.

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