Machines in the archives: Technology and the coming transformation of archival reference


  • Richard J. Cox
  • The Archives Students University of Pittsburgh



Technology is transforming the way in which researchers gain access to archives, not only in the choices archivists make about their uses of technology but in the portable technologies researchers bring with them to the archives. This essay reviews the implications of electronic mail, instant messaging and chat, digital reference services, websites, scanners, digital cameras, folksonomies, and various adaptive technologies in facilitating archival access. The new machines represent greater, even unprecedented, opportunities for archivists to support one of the main elements of their professional mission, namely, getting archival records used.

Author Biographies

Richard J. Cox

Richard J. Cox is Professor in Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Sciences where he is responsible for the archives concentration in the Master's in Library Science degree and the Ph.D. degree. He has written extensively on archival and records.

The Archives Students, University of Pittsburgh

Archives students at the School of Information Sciences of the University of Pittsburgh contributing to this essay include Lisa Alderfer, Brigitta Arden, Therese Barry. Abby Bence, Siri Berdahl, Brian Bleich, Mary Boerger, David Grinnell, D?Arcy Jackson, Yolanda Johnson, Lucy Jones, Kristin Justham, Stephen Kjellman, Angela Manella, Christina D. Patton, David Perrotta, Robin C. Pike, Robert Presutti, Kristiane Pritchard, Matt Strauss, Molly Tighe, Emily Uhrin and Anita Vannucci.


How to Cite

Cox, R. J., & Archives Students, T. (2007). Machines in the archives: Technology and the coming transformation of archival reference. First Monday, 12(11).