What Will We Archive in the Future?

For a Glimpse of Library Collections to Come, Check Out the Fascinating Project to Document Born-Digital Material on Global Health Events

Colorful AIDS education posters from the 1980s. Black-and-white photos of mid-20th-century anatomy lessons for midwives. Eighteenth-century instructions for the administration of patent medicines. While a paper archival collection in the U.S. National Library of Medicine might contain items like these—handwritten or typed journals, correspondence, educational materials, and official reports, some digitized many years after their creation—the next generation of health information lives online.

That’s why the NLM’s two-year-old Global Health Events collection archives born-digital material—webpages, blog posts, social media streams—published during outbreaks and other health crises. The archive includes items like …