"So are all your interviews online?": Digital access, duty of care, and shrugging off the weight of expectation.
How is it possible to render multi-layered, intensely qualitative and often intimate narrative representations of everyday life 'discoverable' online in a way that is meaningful and ethically sound? This question, faced by the Cork Folklore Project regarding their archive of 500+ folklore/oral history audio interviews, is explored using the CFP's experience of constructing an online catalogue as a case study. Expectations on the part of the public and the digital humanities community are examined, and the interplay between digital access provision, the ideal of 'informed consent' and duty of care towards material and people are discussed. The range of models open to cultural archives is broad and sometimes bewildering; from the archive with archivist regulating flows both in and out in as guard, gatekeeper or caretaker, to the online open repository where contributors have full control over shaping what they put up (and take down) in deliberately-authored acts of self-representation. In this context, which of our assumptions and understandings about 'the archive', many of which stem from a long process of debate and reflection, should we re-examine, and which should we reassert? I suggest that folklore archivists have a role to play in asserting the value of our understanding of context and interpretation in the case of qualitative data, in order to contribute to conversations about long-term preservation and access regarding qualitative material across the academic disciplines and in the sphere of heritage.