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Design thinking, UX and born-digital archives: solving the problem of dark archives closed to users

posted on 12.04.2021, 10:22 by Lise JaillantLise Jaillant
As a human-centered method to solve business and social problems, design thinking has been applied to “wicked problems” in a wide range of sectors. However, the archival sector has rarely engaged with this methodology. This chapter argues that design thinking is a productive way to solve the problems of access and use of archival collections in the digital age. Indeed, the vast majority of born-digital archives are not available to users due to data protection, copyright and other issues. Drawing on the author’s experience as a researcher who has had access to “dark” archives normally closed to the public, the chapter presents examples of research that can be done using born-digital records. It demonstrates the importance of seeking early feedback from researchers via design thinking workshops, and of designing and improving access procedures through an iterative process. Researchers have too often played the role of passive users of archival collections. They now need to work closely with archivists to shape access policies that will facilitate the use of innovative methodologies such as Artificial Intelligence.


Survival of the Weakest: Preserving and Analysing Born-Digital Records to Understand How Small Poetry Publishers Survive in the Global Marketplace

Arts and Humanities Research Council

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  • Social Sciences and Humanities


  • Communication and Media

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Archives, Access and Artificial Intelligence: Working with Born-Digital and Digitised Archival Collections




AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by transcript under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Licence (CC BY-NC 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at:


9783837655841; 9783839455845




Lise Jaillant


Dr Lise Jaillant. Deposit date: 9 April 2021

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