This guide to digital archives was written while many UK archives were closed due to COVID-19. Although the majority have now re-opened, it continues to be a useful introduction to the different types of archives that are available digitally and how to approach them critically.
An archive can refer to:
Although we usually think of archives as being paper documents, they can also be digital, photographic and audiovisual. Many archive collections also include some books and objects.
An archive differs from a library both in what it holds and how it is organised.
Digitised archives are physical collections that have been scanned, photographed or indexed in order to make the information in them available online.
Born-digital archives are archives that have started their life as digital documents (for example, as a spreadsheet or as a digital photograph) and have been used in this format throughout their life, before being transferred to the archive in a digital format.
The original version of this guide was written by the Senior Archivist in 2020 while many UK archives were closed due to COVID-19.