Most of the time, online catalogs are the primary access point for users to archives, collections, and libraries. The ways resources are archived, cataloged, categorized, described, and not least presented prescribe what kind of questions the digital archive can answer or pose, what insights can be gained, or how connections can be made. Shaped by norms, standards, legal frameworks, technical solutions, data models and design, institutional interests, and social aspects, the practices of making and maintaining catalog interfaces define the potentials and limits of accessibility and interpretation.

With digitization, the catalog undergoes dramatic changes – it no longer only publishes the metadata of resources but some of the resources themselves. It becomes permeable to other catalogs and search devices, potentially enabling contextualizing and mobilizing resources beyond institutional borders. In that regard, archival practice in the digital context has been experiencing a curatorial turn. Questions become relevant such as: How is it decided what resource is published? Who has the authority to give access, and who benefits from it? Where do we have an ethical responsibility to restrict access? How do we consider the needs of marginalized communities and non-institutional perspectives on giving or limiting access?

Digitization is a conscious act of reactivation. It carries the potential to re-narrate histories via critical and experimental approaches. The design of archival interfaces thus is not only a site of conflicting stakes and interests but also a space for potentially different modes of use and openness, representation, and contextualization.

Together with our guest, digital humanities researcher and designer Lozana Rossenova, we want to discuss how art, design, and practice-led research negotiate some of the problematic questions linked to the accessibility of digitized resources. We want to shed some light on how such approaches can contribute to rendering visible hidden mechanisms of the catalog and creating interventions contributing to the collective needs of the respective communities.

#archival interfaces #open access


Introduction by Lucie & Moritz

Lozana Rossenova (presentation) & Discussion

Break (15 min.)

Moritz (presentation) & Discussion

Wrap Up


Dr Lozana Rossenova is a digital humanities researcher and designer. She studied art and design in New York, before moving to the UK to pursue an MA degree at the Department for Typography and Graphic Communication in the University of Reading. She has previously worked in design agencies both in London and New York, working with non-profit, educational and cultural clients.

Between 2016–2021, Rossenova was a PhD candidate at the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image at London South Bank University. The project was a partnership with Rhizome, a leading international born-digital art organization based in New York. Her research focused on questions related to data presentation and performativity in the online archive of born-digital art, which she examined through the lens of digital design (theory and practice). She is currently a Postdoc Researcher at the Open Science Lab at TIB (German National Library of Science and Technology, Hannover) working on the NFDI4Culture project for a national research infrastructure of cultural heritage data.

Rossenova is an active member of the Wikidata and Wikibase open source development communities, and a Steering Committee member of OpenRefine, an open source data management tool with wide adoption in heritage, research and digital humanities communities.

For preparation
Readings & Materials