Bringing Archives Together

by David Frank

As digital technologies continue to change, archivists and researchers who are interested in working with digital forms of data continually face the loss of access to older information created in outdated formats.  To remedy this problem, the Library of Congress, with help from information architecture company Zepheria, created Recollection, a collaborative tool for sharing and visualizing cultural data.  Recollection is ultimately a data visualization tool that transforms large and unwieldy databases into user-friendly formats such as an interactive timeline or map.  Data in a variety of formats such as text, photos, and film can all be accessed through a unified visual interface.  Users are then able work with the data, selecting pertinent variables and visual presentation formats to organize data in new and interesting ways.

Recollection can help institutions increase meaningful access to their collections, as well as end-user researchers who can gain new insights from creative, visual forms of data presentation.  Additionally, by allowing access to multiple forms of data, Recollection removes the barriers between analyzing different types of media, resulting in a more intuitive research experience and fewer platform issues which previously inhibited institutions from sharing their data.  Recollection is still in the Beta testing phase, however, users may request a free account by providing some brief information on your organization and how you plan to use the tool. To see how Recollection works, check out their pilot page for The University of Louisville’s digital archive of photographer Jean Thomas’ work.

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Author: Jessica Speer

As the Research Specialist at SSRC, Jessica edits re/search, consults with faculty, and conducts SSRC research projects. She is interested in questions of information management, preservation, communication, and dissemination.

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