Recently the Archives received a question from a student who wanted to know: why aren’t archival records searchable with Google? Is there any way to make Google show archival results?
While on the surface this seems like a simple question, the issue is quite nuanced and dependent on individual practices of different repositories. The main reason that Google doesn’t reflect archival information is that the majority of archival material is not digitized (i.e., converted from a physical format to a digital one, such as via scanning paper material). Something that I usually tell students is that when you’ve heard teachers and librarians tell you that “80% of all information can’t be found online,” the material in the archives comprises a large chunk of that 80% which requires more effort to find. Other scholarly resources that end up behind paywalls, as well as files that are currently in use or not yet deposited anywhere comprise another sizable portion. Even when archival material is born-digital or digitized, it tends to be accessible and searchable mainly within the catalog or database that it lives in, as opposed to through major search engines like Google.