Center for Archival Futures (CAFe)

Technological advances have significantly expanded our ability to create, analyze, preserve, and reuse data and other digital objects across all contexts.  These expanded capabilities have led us to grapple with the questions of how to bend these new capabilities to equitably serve our society by giving us all access to cultural memory at previously unprecedented scales. In response to this challenge, the Center for Archival Futures (CAFe) seeks to develop and disseminate human-centered approaches to creating the systems, processes, and institutions which enable the use of and care for digital objects and data over time. We take a holistic view of digital curation as a research area, education domain, and growing profession that transcends disciplines and organizational contexts. To accomplish the mission of developing and disseminating human-centered approaches to understanding the use of and care for digital objects and data over time the Center for Archival Futures conducts research, education, and partnership building in the following areas:
  • Data in communities. How digital collections and data support communities: community memory; activism and advocacy; governance, policy, and decision-making; relationships and engagement; lifelong learning and public research (e.g., public history, citizen science); community endurance and resilience; and critical views on digital objects and data
  • Digital lifecycles. The management, use, and impact of data and digital objects throughout their lifecycles—from creation to analysis to preservation to reuse in new contexts.   This includes, but is not limited to the investigation of techniques for big data retrieval, processing, and visualization; crowdsourcing, and other approaches for working with digital objects and data throughout their entire lifecycle.
  • Data in knowledge ecosystems. The roles of digital collections and data in advancing knowledge across disciplines: data models and infrastructures to support future knowledge ecosystems and interdisciplinary synthesis.
We advance knowledge and practice by serving as an active hub, bringing together researchers, professionals, and students to facilitate collaborative research projects, experiential learning, demonstration projects, and other activities that promote the development of nuanced, actionable understandings of human-centered approaches to the use of and care for digital objects and data over time.

CAFE Website

Research Projects

Digital Curation Fellows Program – National Agricultural Library
Principal Investigator(s): Katrina Fenlon
Funder: USDA Agricultural Research Service
Research Areas: Computational Archival Science > Data Science, Analytics, and Visualization > Library and Information Science
The Digital Curation Fellows program is a partnership with the National Agricultural Library (NAL) to provide students from across all iSchool programs with research and practical experience solving real-world digital curation challenges. Digital curation fellows have contributed to numerous initiatives during this program’s several-year history, such as developing digital preservation plans, researching user experience, evaluating metadata quality, assessing diversity and equity of representation in digital collections, building new digital archives, and creating data analytics dashboards.