The Keeper App: Creating a Participatory Digital Archive
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The University of North Texas is home to nearly 40,000 students, and their experiences are a critical part of the collective memory of this unique campus community. As more documentation of the student experience is created solely in digital format, there is both risk of losing documentation that is not actively archived and also opportunity to encourage participation in the archival process through technology. In 2018 UNT released the Keeper web app which provides a platform for submitting digital files as donations to the University Archive. With a simple drag-and-drop interface for submissions, Keeper creates a way for students and other community members to immediately and directly contribute to the archive by transferring their digital memories electronically moments after they are captured. Submissions through Keeper are described by archivists and uploaded to the university’s digital library as part of the University Memory Collection, an ongoing digital project to capture the current experience of this community and preserve those memories in perpetuity. The University Archive continues to implement new efforts to promote the use of Keeper in order to increase meaningful student and community participation and actively document the full spectrum of community experience in the archives. This presentation explores the challenges that have arisen in the past and plans to utilize Keeper in new ways into the future, including a specific effort to promote Keeper as a way for students to contribute documentation of their experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic to the archive.