Date of Award

December 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Library and Information Science


Library and Information Science

First Advisor

Donald C. Force

Committee Members

Michael Doylen, Michael Zimmer


Archives, Bias, Digitization, Libraries


Our collective memory, the history that is cultivated through reflection, documentation, and consensus of historical data, is predicated upon the citizenry having access to the historical materials that society has created. Digitization has enabled greater public access to those materials. However, are items being scanned or digitally photographed to create surrogates that are then not made available to the world? The impetus for this study is to delve into whether or not intentional or unintentional personal choices play a role in determining which items archivists transform into digital surrogates; both in the decision of what to digitize and what to make available to the public on the World Wide Web. When one archival collection is prioritized over another or when it is not possible to digitize an entire collection, what rationale is used to determine which items will be digitized and published online? Do intentional or unintentional personal choices come into play in the decision-making? To answer these questions, four case studies were conducted, involving the random sampling of online collections and concomitant interviews of archivists. The purpose of this study is to enhance archivists’ understanding of the reasons that guide the digitization decision-making process. Through such understanding, archivists can be more proactive in the decision-making process to realize the benefit of digitizing and publishing archival materials that ultimately affect collective memory. The findings of this research revealed that in the case of the four institutions assessed, archivists do use personal choice to determine which materials within an archive are digitized.