Increased use of digital media has led to an opening-up of opportunities for oral history and folklore archives, and takes place in a context of expectations on the part of researchers, browsers, the public and digital humanities practitioners that may sometimes be at odds with certain core characteristics of the collections. This article asserts the specificity of audio-based oral history and folklore collections. It makes a case for deliberate action on the part of curators to assert these particularities and the value of the collections as research, community and creative resources, in a call to shape expectations around digital engagement as much as being shaped by them. How easy is it to avoid becoming caught up in a ‘digital rapture’ , and to push back against expectations in order to create our own space where the specific nature of collected material, and of slow engagement with everyday life, is honoured? And could this be to the benefit of meaningful preservation of digital qualitative research data in the future?