SEAHA Centre for Doctoral Training


Cristina Duran-Casablancas publishes on the impact of digitisation on archival collections

12 October 2022

SEAHA PhD student Cristina Duran-Casablancas, based at UCL Institute of Sustainable Heritage, has published research that simulates the impact of digitisation on the physical access of archival collections.

 Reading room at the Amsterdam City Archives

Digitisation has become an essential part of archival and library strategies to enhance access to collections. As the digital content is increasing due to large-scale digitisation projects, it is expected that providing digital access to the analogue collections will eventually reduce the number of archival records accessed in the reading room.
This issue is investigated using two approaches: system dynamics and agent-based modelling. We first analyse real data in order to identify the dynamic hypothesis of the model. Then, a sensitivity analysis is conducted on two baseline models to identify scenarios that match the real dataset. Although the two approaches suceed to simulate the number of requests in the reading room, the experimental results show that a better fit is obtained in the agent-based model when not only the number of records that have been accessed and digitised is taken into account, but also the number of times that such records have been accessed before digitisation. The proposed model can be used to explore the impact of different digitisation strategies on the decrease in access requests in the archival and library reading rooms.


Image: Reading room at the Amsterdam City Archives. Martin Alberts, Amsterdam City Archives.