H-Net: Preserving and Improving Access to Specialized Electronic Mailing List Archives
"H-Net: Preserving and Improving Access to Specialized Electronic Mailing List Archives" seeks to advance the state of electronic mail archiving by assessing and improving the digital preservation, management, and access functions of H-Net's one million plus electronic mailing list records housed at Michigan State University. Michigan State University through MATRIX: Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online will lead this effort in partnership with H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, an international consortium of teachers and scholars that sponsors more than 160 free, electronic interactive lists on teaching and research subjects in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Part of an ongoing research and preservation program, this project teams MATRIX (which hosts H-Net) and H-Net with researchers from MSU's Computer Science and Engineering Department who specialize in searching and data-mining technology, and with an Archivist Advisory Board with leading expertise in electronic records management.
This research and development program's goals are two-fold:
- Ensure preservation, authenticity and sustainability of a valuable and extensive public collection of scholarly discussion; and
- Improve and extend access to that collection through the development of tools and methods for preserving, searching, and sorting electronic mail records.
To these ends, MATRIX has hired a digital archivist, supported by an Archivist Advisory Board, to assess the preservation and access practices developed for H-Net records and to recommend any necessary archival modifications and improvements. This continues a process identified in the H-Net governing council's 2005 Strategic Plan.
The program will also develop and test Semantic Augmented Consensus Clustering (SACC), a record searching and sorting approach that has the potential to provide useful information about what users need from digital collections and how researchers use them.
The results of this research will have broader impact for other topical discussion lists and for large tracts of electronic mail generally.