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ICA/EGRSO Webinar on Digital Access - How do we make access to archives equitable in the post-digital age?

Free ICA/EGRSO Webinar on Digital Access - How do we make access to archives equitable in the post-digital age?

The International Council on Archives Expert Group on Research Services and Outreach (EGRSO) is hosting a webinar on the subject how of digital access to archives has been radically transformed over the past three years, partly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and partly because of emerging new technologies that have enabled greater dissemination of archival heritage in digital form and for a wide range of audiences. 

While digital access first is increasingly expected by users of archives and provides an avenue for more equitable access to archival holdings and records, the assumption that everyone has access to digital technology or engages with it can contribute to creating new barriers. Therefore, it is important to consider this when implementing digital access strategies to archival holdings. 

In this session we will explore three case studies from a variety of archival institutions based in different regions of the world. Presenters will focus on how they have approached digital access to archives and engaged users with their service. 


  • History Hub: creating a support community, Kelly Osborn (National Archives and Records Administration, USA) – History Hub is a support community hosted by the National Archives, which breaks barriers to traditional reference services by offering researchers and search engines. It is a platform built in response to the way users seek information and assistance online. 

  • Implementing a Virtual Reading Room Service, Dr Lisa O’Sullivan (University of Melbourne Archives and Special Collections) – Virtual Reading Rooms (VRRs) offer clients human-mediated, real-time consultations primarily for unique and distinctive collections which are not loanable or digitised. VRR services emerged in research libraries grappling with access restrictions during pandemic lockdowns and have become an ongoing service for many libraries seeking new ways to help readers access collections. 

  • Beyond 2022: Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury, Ciaràn Wallace (Beyond 2022 - Virtual Treasury Project) – The Record Treasury held seven centuries of Irish history and was destroyed in the Battle of the Four Courts on 30 June 1922. The high walls with their elegant windows, the long glass roof, and metal floors and bays of shelving — along with the hundreds of thousands of precious documents — were all lost. Now, it has been recreated virtually. 


Kelly Osborn has been with NARA since 2008 and became NARA’s first Community Manager in 2013 after launching the ICN, NARA’s first agency-wide community. Her next project, History Hub, has won numerous awards since its launch in 2015, including the SAA Archival Innovator Award and a “Bright Idea” recognition from Harvard’s Innovations in Government program. Before coming to work at NARA, she was a web developer for the publishers of The Atlantic and Science Magazine, as well as the Smithsonian's American Art Museum. She moved to the DC area from Arizona to get a masters in art history at American University. The program requires two theses; the one in her area -- American art -- was on performance art and feminism.  

Lisa O’Sullivan works with the University of Melbourne’s Archives and Special collections as Program Manager, Engagement and Outreach. Lisa’s background is in medical history and curatorship and she holds a doctorate in history from the University of London. She has worked across libraries, museums and in the academic sector in Australia, the UK and the USA. Her focus has been on audience engagement and outreach through exhibition development, collection management and the creation of digital resources. Lisa has written and taught on the history of European race science with a focus on the place of human remains and culturally sensitive objects in scientific practice and museum collections. 

Ciarán Wallace is Deputy Director of Beyond 2022. He completed his PhD on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century municipal politics in Dublin at Trinity College Dublin (2010), where he subsequently held a Government of Ireland Post-doctoral Fellowship. Having lectured in Modern Irish History at Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University and Liverpool John Moore’s University Ciarán returned to Dublin to take up a post in the initial scoping phase for Beyond 2022 | the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland. Since 2016 Ciarán has collaborated on behalf of the Virtual Treasury with partners in the National Archives of Ireland, The National Archives (UK), Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the Irish Manuscripts Commission and the Library, Trinity College Dublin, coordinating archival and historical research. 

Date: Thursday, 20 July 2023 

Time: 15:00 CET. To confirm the date/time of this session in your time zone please use the following link

Location: Online. The event will be recorded and made available on the ICA’s YouTube channel and its website. 

Registration: The session is free and open to all.

This virtual session will be delivered in English. Interpretation into other languages will not be provided.