ARCHIVES 2015 has ended
Tuesday, August 18 • 10:30am - 11:00am
Research Forum Session 3: Expanding Collections Discovery - Stories of Impact: The Role of Narrative in Understanding the Value and Impact of Digital Collections

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Over the last two decades, libraries, archives, and museums (LAM) have made large portions of their anthropological holdings available in digitized formats. However, the development of tools and models for assessing the impact and usability of these digital assets has not kept pace. General models and tools created for the heritage sector in general are not necessarily appropriate for ethnographic collections, whose assessment demands special consideration. As a consequence, LAM institutions risk misunderstanding the significance of online access to ethnographic collections currently accessible and may be missing opportunities to strategically develop additional digital collections. Equally important, LAM institutions that fail to appreciate the distinctive nature of ethnographic collections, may mishandle culturally sensitive materials, and inadvertently foster cultural misunderstanding or the misuse of their collections. Current modes of assessing the impact of digitization in general are limited to metrics or analytics—numeric totals of downloads, clicks, hits, and “likes.” Lacking more qualitative data, institutions often rely on these proxy measures and anecdotal feedback to evaluate the impact of digitization projects. Reporting the findings of a yearlong interdisciplinary study titled “Valuing Our Scans: Assessing the Value and Impact of Digitized Ethnographic Archives,” my proposed presentation underscores the importance of storytelling in articulating the value and impact of digitized ethnographic collections. In particular, I will describe the different ways that stories and storytelling factor into understanding impacts of digitized cultural heritage objects. I will also discuss the implications of the study’s findings for cultural heritage practice and collections development.

About the Author: Ricardo L. Punzalan is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies, where he teaches courses on archives and digital curation. He holds a PhD in information from the University of Michigan School of Information. In addition to an MLIS from the University of the Philippines, he completed two certificates of graduate studies at Michigan, one in science, technology, and society (STS) and another in museum studies. Prior to his doctoral studies, he served in faculty of the University of the Philippines School of Library and Information Studies. His area of research includes understanding the relationship of archives and collective memory, the politics and dynamics of digitization decision-making in collaborative and inter-institutional settings, and the uses and users of digitized archival images. His current research examines “virtual reunification” as a strategy to provide integrated access to dispersed ethnographic archival images online. He is also developing ways to effectively document, evaluate, and articulate the impact and outcomes of digitized ethnographic archives. His articles have been published in the American Archivist, Library Quarterly, Archives and Manuscripts, Archivaria, and Archival Science. 

avatar for Ricardo L. Punzalan

Ricardo L. Punzalan

Assistant Professor, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland
Dr. Punzalan is an assistant professor of archives and digital curation at the University of Maryland, College Park and the current Chair of SAA's Native American Archives Section. His research examines the social impact of access to digitized ethnographic archives.

Tuesday August 18, 2015 10:30am - 11:00am EDT
Room 26A Cleveland Convention Center, 300 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114

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