The following request has been received from the University of St Andrews and the University of Dundee, who would like to hear from authors who use social media:

Archive staff at the University of St Andrews and the University of Dundee are looking for input from members of the Society of Authors regarding the preservation of an author’s social media content.

It’s only over the last two centuries that literary research through archives has evolved into the widely respected academic discipline that it is today. As a direct result of that literary archives are being collected and preserved in perpetuity across the world providing researchers with a unique insight into the inner workings of an author’s creative process. Access to this type of content is not only of value to those looking to deconstruct and analyse an author, their work and influences, but also to aspiring authors looking to hone their craft and seek guidance from those they admire. They are a truly valuable resource.

The research is looking at the attitudes of archivists and authors to social media and how they can collaborate to ensure an author’s social media content is preserved in perpetuity along with their print and/or digital archives. The research focuses on the digital legacy of the life and work of an author which may find its way into a specialist or institutional archive either by bequest, donation or purchase. It is the cultural norm today for published and aspiring authors to use an ever bewildering array of digital technology to write and draft new pieces of work, to build their profile and to communicate with friends, peers and business associates. Social media is one example of technology that is so ingrained in the way of life it is more instinctive, and efficient, to log in to Facebook, Twitter or a blog site and post information that can be instantly accessed by the public, than it is to write a letter.

To carry out this research it would be helpful if archivists could forward the following survey on to any living authors whose collections they actively manage.

Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Kirsty Lee

MLitt postgrad, University of Dundee and Archives Assistant, University of St Andrews