National Participatory Archiving Survey Results Available Now!

Map of United States showing which states responded to the surveyDuring summer 2019, University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston conducted a survey about participatory archiving, or the process of collecting and preserving materials in partnership with community members. The results of the survey will inform the development of an online resource to guide libraries of all kinds and sizes through the process of hosting a participatory archiving event. The project is inspired by UASC’s Mass. Memories Road Show program and made possible by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). 

The survey results capture the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of libraries and other cultural organizations already doing participatory archiving events and those that are exploring the idea of hosting an event. UASC collected survey responses from 208 respondents representing 33 states and the District of Columbia: 123 libraries (public, private, university, and K-12), 46 cultural heritage organizations, and 25 government agencies, as well as other institutions. 

The survey reveals a great deal of interest in participatory archiving across the country. 

Approximately one half of the libraries surveyed already hosted a participatory archiving event. Ninety-five percent of these libraries found success in building community, engaging participants, and building collections through these types of events. To share materials gathered, libraries provided in-archive use to the public, posted them to their own digital repositories and social media, and/or shared them through a consortium website or state/regional repository. The survey revealed that many libraries are still learning how to preserve the digital assets they collect at participatory archiving events. 

A slight majority (55%) of libraries surveyed have not hosted or taken part in a participatory archiving event. More than half of these libraries rated their interest in holding such an event as very high. Most of these libraries cited community engagement and collections activities (building, diversifying, filling gaps) among their primary goals. To effectively host an event, these libraries reported the need for personnel (staff or volunteers), time, and guidance on various aspects of the participatory archiving process. 

UASC looks forward to addressing these needs and other gaps uncovered in the survey. In addition, UASC will seek feedback from survey participants on the online resource when it is launched later this year.  

The report analysis covers a range of topics including community outreach, digital aggregator repositories, and preservation practices from the perspectives of libraries. Responses from other types of cultural organizations are contained within the dataset that can be found in the appendix.

If you have questions about the survey or the IMLS-funded project, please email

Click here to read the full report and to access the data set.

Click here to learn more about the grant-funded project.

About the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston

UMass Boston logoThe Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston plays a leading role in the dynamic culture of teaching and learning at Boston’s only public research university, while also supporting the campus’ commitment to urban and community engagement. University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) in the Healey Library collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service. UASC is committed to working with, promoting, and assisting community archives in the Greater Boston area and beyond through facilitating cross-organization collaboration and access to informational, educational, and practical resources relevant to archival procedures and best practices. Check in with Healey Library’s news and collections through FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

Logo for the Institute of Museum and Library ServicesThe Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. They advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Their vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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