BOBCATSSS 2023: A New Era – Exploring the Possibilities and Expanding the Boundaries

Bobcatsss 2023

Blinken OSA Digital Archivist Márton Németh participated in Bobcatsss 2023, an annual conference on Library and Information Science and Archival Science. In his presentation last week, held together with Gyula Kalcsó from the Digital Humanities Centre of the National Széchényi Library, Németh addressed major constraints about web archiving as a research subject, stressing that “World Wide Web has become an inherent element in our societies’ communicative infrastructure, it is crucial to understand the development of the web as a public sphere where national and transnational events are articulated, created, and negotiated.” Németh and Kalcsó provided a theoretical overview as well as practical examples about data mining, corpus-building, and data visualization (based on the Ukrainian War web archive curated at the Országos Széchényi Könyvtár).

Since the mid-1990s, Bobcatsss has been organized by university students from Library and Information Science and Archival Science and managed by leading professionals from both fields. In more and more countries, these two public collection fields either have joint departments in universities, or offer courses jointly.

Keynote speeches
at Bobcatsss 2023 also reflected this balance. Aslak Sira Myhre, Director of the National Library of Norway, has emphasized the development of digital services both in the library and archives field, highlighting that digitization is only a tool to make documents available, we also must manage copyright issues and find new creative ways to offer access. Another keynote speaker, Geoffrey Yeo, Honorary Senior Research Fellow in archives and records management at the Department of Information Studies, University College London (UK), explored the boundaries and growing intersections between the fields of archives and Library and Information Science in the digital age.

A keynote panel discussed the newly published anthology Libraries, Archives, and Museums in Transition: Changes, Challenges, and Convergence in a Scandinavian Perspective. Similarly revolved around the notion of convergence, the conversation recounted how in recent decades libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs) have picked up new tasks in response to external changes. Libraries now host makerspaces and literary workshops; archives fight climate change and support indigenous people; and museums are used as instruments for economic growth and urban planning.

Márton Németh started working as Digital Archivist at Blinken OSA in November 2022. Márton has a background in Library and Information Science and has worked at the National Széchényi Library for 12 years (in two different periods)—providing yet another example of convergence between the library and the archives field.