Friday, September 26, 2014


The Arkansas History Commission recently announced the relaunch of its online digital archives. The digital archives currently contain photographs, documents, lesson plans and music. We also participate in an online consortium called Ark-Cat. Ark-Cat provides detailed descriptions of primary source materials maintained by Arkansas archives, special collections, libraries, historical societies, and museums and brings together collection guides from these repositories to help you to more easily locate historical archival material.
The Arkansas History Commission isn’t the only agency utilizing the Internet to provide patrons with readier access to information.
A large number of libraries, archives and museums around the country are increasingly turning to providing online content for their patrons in order to address multiple challenges, including changing patron demands and a renewed interest in history. The online content is being shared via both individual institutional websites and through a variety of collaborative projects. The collaborative projects at both state and national levels now provide researchers with seamless access to digital resources held at multiple repositories with the biggest advantage being the opportunity to provide researchers with the ability to conduct research across multiple institutions from one location.
Alabama’s site, Alabama Mosaic ( ), currently has 33 contributing institutions for their collaborative digital collections. Their online repository contains digital materials pertaining to their history, culture, people and places. Massachusetts’ collaborative digital collection is called Digital Commonwealth ( ) and has more than 130 contributing institutions providing “ access to photographs, manuscripts, audio recordings, and other materials of historical interest.” The Mountain West Digital Library ) is a multi-state collaboration with material from six states. It provides free access to over 900,000 resources from Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Montana and Hawaii.
Currently, Arkansas does not have or participate in a digital collaborative like those cited here. There are many Arkansas libraries, archives and museums that currently share their unique holdings through online digital collections on their institutional websites.
If you are someone who uses archives for research – either online or in person -- we’d like to ask you to share your opinions in a brief survey. As a student, scholar, researcher – whatever your interest in history – we have put together a short, anonymous survey to help us gain a better understanding of when, where and how you are using archives. We hope you’ll take a few minutes of your valuable time to share your opinions with us. Your feedback is important to us and very much appreciated!