The archival community is within the early and unsettled stages of an important transition in information access as an increasing number of repositories and records management programs utilize powerful communications tools such as the Internet Gopher, Cello, and Mosaic. By the spring of 1994, the authors identified well over a dozen academic institutions that had made descriptive guides to historical materials or records management information available through the Internet. Among the first repositories to make historical records descriptions available in this way were Johns Hopkins University, Wheaton College, Trent University, and the University of Virginia. Internet resources dealing with historical records are not, however, the sole province of academic institutions; the Texas State Archives, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the British Columbia Archives and Records Service have developed Internet finding aids.
This essay examines the planning, development, and implementation of the archives and records management Gopher located at Oregon State University. The authors will also discuss several issues that the archives and records management communities must address if the Internet is to live up to its potential. The authors do not present the Internet Gopher resources developed at Oregon State University as the only successful application of this technology or as the model for other archival and records management programs to emulate. The OSU Gopher, with its diverse yet integrated content, does however invite examination, criticism, and analysis.