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Collections, connections and change: differences in experiencing archives

Diana K. Wakimoto (California State University, East Bay, Hayward, California, USA)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 7 February 2017




The purpose of this paper is to describe different collective ways that archivists, librarians and those with dual-roles experience archives.


Using a phenomenographic approach, a total of 24 librarians, archivists and dual-role individuals were interviewed, and interview transcripts were analyzed to create categories that described the varying ways in which archives are experienced.


Librarians experienced archives in four ways: historical resources, preserving history, preserved access and political. Archivists experienced archives in four ways: accessible collections, connection, collaboration and stewardship. Dual-role individuals experienced archives in five ways: collections, preserved access, progress, connection and knowledge creators. There are variations among and within each group on how archives are experienced. However, there is a significant overlap in many categories in terms of access, preservation, use and collections.

Practical implications

Understanding each other’s different perspectives could lead to stronger partnerships among librarians, archivists and dual-role individuals. These partnerships have the potential to increase the visibility of archives, providing greater access and engagement for community members.


The study supports previous phenomenographic research on experiences of archives and provides a more nuanced understanding of information professionals’ varying collective experiences of archives.



This research was made possible, in part, by the California Academic and Research Libraries (CARL) Association Research Grant. This grant funded the transcription of the interview recordings. The author thanks all the interviewees for their time and willingness to share their experiences. The author also thanks Christine S. Bruce for her review and comments prior to submission, which made the manuscript much stronger.


Wakimoto, D.K. (2017), "Collections, connections and change: differences in experiencing archives", Library Review, Vol. 66 No. 1/2, pp. 2-15.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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