Archives in the Life of the User: What Archives Can Learn from User-Centric Museums


  • Jason P. Martin University of British Columbia



LAM, archives, archivists, museums,


Library, archive, and museum convergence is still a topic of much contention in some academic circles. However, resistance is perhaps most entrenched in the archival discipline. This article attempts to briefly examine why that might be the case, and then asks the question: What can archives learn from museums' relatively-new increased focus on being user-centric?

The author uses the extraordinary scholarship of authors such as Paul F. Marty, W. Boyd Rayward, and numerous others in order to examine changes in libraries and, most specifically, museums, as well as the creation of the museum information professional role and the use of museum informatics. From this examination, the article suggests that archives and archivists could indeed benefit greatly from further explorating into, and adaptation of, the museum world's increasingly user-centric approach. It is furthermore suggested, following in the prior steps of libraries and museums, that the focus of archives should move from a "user in the life of the archive" to an "archive in the life of the user" mentality.

Author Biography

Jason P. Martin, University of British Columbia

Jason P. Martin is a Master’s in Archival Student (MAS) candidate at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) iSchool. He graduated, summa cum laude and with Departmental Honors, with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Art History, from Albion College, Michigan in 2012. After graduating with an MAS, he plans to pursue a second Master’s degree in History at UBC, followed by a later PhD, with the endgame of becoming a professor. Jason credits his liberal arts education and a supportive group of friends and family for his unquenchable pursuit of knowledge and interdisciplinary interests. He can be contacted at 


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