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Open Access to Scholarship

This research guide provides an brief overview of past and current issues relevant to the open access movement.

Why do we keep Archives?

The purpose of keeping archives is to collect, preserve, and make available records of enduring value to the public. Records are kept for their usefulness to society, and tend to have one or more of the following:

  • Operating value
  • Administrative value
  • Fiscal value
  • Legal value
  • Enduring (archival) value

Enduring value means the items are worthy of permanent (insofar as it is possible) preservation. Sometimes it is the only the content that needs to be preserved, which can be transferred to another medium. Sometimes archives contain records with intrinsic value.

Intrinsic value refers to qualities of an item that make it necessary to keep the original, even when copies exist.

Possible characteristics of records that have intrinsic value:

  • Unique physical form or features
  • Artistic quality
  • Age
  • Questionable authenticity (e.g. flying saucer photos)
  • Substantial public interest
  • Documentation for legal status or high level policy creation and decisions

Making Archives Available

For records that are not 'born digital,' creating accessible digital versions of original records requires a lot of time and effort. Find out what goes into making records available online at the National Archives and Records Administration.

Archival Collections Online

Explore collections of archival materials freely available online.

Archives Month

Related Resources

Boston University Primary Source Guide

More information on primary sources and archival collections available online.

Further Reading