The Bridging the Gap project is the recipient of a SSHRC Insight Grant.
Bridging the Gap seeks to link archives to the broader community of users, specialists and non-specialists alike. When they were founded in the 1970s and 1980s, LGBTQ archives' principle purpose was to empower the people they serve, and serve the people they empower. Information technology specialist Anthony Cocciolo's (2010) research suggests that digital archives can better fulfill this mandate by building an "architecture of participation" where users are "first class entities in the system." By making distinctions between academic and community-based users less important, this approach of turning users into “first class entities in the system” surpasses that of the traditional community-based archive. It enables users to contribute their own content, and increases opportunities to meet people with similar interests. To strengthen ALOT’s connection to the broader community, the proposed research will build an architecture of participation in order to bridge the gap between the university and the community the archives seeks to serve. Building an architecture of participation also revitalizes the anti-commercial, collectivist values of the women’s and gay liberation movements that made lesbian and gay history a tool for grassroots empowerment, knowledge acquisition, skill-building, and political action in the first place. To create this "architecture of participation" and to conduct this research, ALOT is in the process of adding new participatory features to the website, including: the ability for users to register as "contributors"; for users to be able to upload their own oral history interviews directly to the website; and for users to be able to rate and tag their own and existing content on the site.
ALOT is currently in final stages of research design and implementing these participatory features on the website, with the goal to launch widely at the end of March 2017. Some features (registering) are currently available and others are in the user-testing stages. Check back for more updates. For more information, or for any questions about getting involved in our project, please contact us.