n.the ability to locate relevant information through the use of catalogs, indexes, finding aids, or other toolsJimerson 2009, 16–17Users need to have both intellectual and physical access to manuscripts and archives. Each of these access types requires repository policies and procedures, both to assist users and to protect the rights of donors and third parties who might be affected by disclosure of sensitive information. Archivists provide intellectual access to information about the repository’s holdings (e.g., finding aids, bibliographic databases, and web access); information from holdings (particularly for remote user access or in-house administrative queries); information about records creators; and referrals to sources outside the repository. Intellectual access makes reference use of archives and manuscripts possible, but users also require physical access. Archivists must balance access goals with the need for security and preservation measures to protect fragile or unique materials. Concerns for personal privacy and the rights of third parties sometimes require limiting both physical and intellectual access to certain records.Jimerson 2009, 333Archivists assume a professional responsibility to ensure access to public records. Legitimate personal privacy and confidentiality considerations place some limitations on what—and when—information can be released to the public, but in the United States the presumption favors accessibility.Meissner 2019, 104The purpose of this [DACS] element is to clearly state the conditions under which users may gain access to materials in the collection and, specifically, whether any or all of the materials are restricted.the permission to locate and retrieve information for use (consultation or reference) within legally established restrictions of privacy, confidentiality, and security clearanceHoff-Wilson 1983, 445At the same time, it became more and more difficult for historians to justify privileged access because documentation about socioeconomic and political movements, often involving powerless groups, was found increasingly in public records rather than private manuscript collections requiring special permission for access. Thus, access, first to private and then to public sources of information, has been an enduring hallmark of historians over time; but the relationship of access to privacy has become more problematic as the interests and members of the historical profession have become more heterogeneous.Schellenberg 1994, 225In evolving policies for the regulation of access to public records that will be found reasonable by both government officials and the public it is necessary to devise procedures for defining and enforcing restrictions on their use.Meissner 2019, 104In some cases, access is not constrained by legal requirements, but by the physical nature of the materials themselves. Such conditions might include their location, which could delay access to the materials because of retrieval issues.Computingthe physical processes of retrieving information from storage mediaNSLA 2001Access – to intercept, instruct, communicate with, store data in, retrieve from or otherwise make use of any resources of a computer, network or data.
“Access” and “accessibility” are frequently used synonymously, although “accessibility” carries the connotation of providing access to individuals with disabilities.