Does Size Matter in the Digital Age? Reappraisal Considerations for Syllabi

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Midwest Archives Conference

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In the era of digital documents, does size matter? Do we collect digital records more readily than their physical counterparts simply because we can, because we perceive storage to be inexpensive and unlimited? If collection size does not matter in the digital world, what should be considered in determining whether or not to acquire a collection that experiences significant annual growth? College and university archives are charged with collecting, preserving, and providing access to the documentary heritage of their institutions. The central task of higher education—teaching—is very difficult to document; who taught what course can be recorded easily, what was actually taught and how it was taught is much more difficult. The syllabus, a key record to documenting this educational process, has often not been included in archival collections due to intellectual property issues and sheer volume. This article examines the issues that surround collecting syllabi as an exemplar of collecting large volumes of records because we can in the digital age.



Archival Appraisal/Reappraisal, Syllabus/Syllabi, Digital Records, Electronic Records, Digital Preservation


Published version: Daniel W. Noonan, "Does Size Matter in the Digital Age? Reappraisal Considerations for Syllabi," Archival Issues, 37 no. 1 (2015): 7-20.