Archiving the Games: collecting, storing and disseminating the London 2012 knowledge legacy

Rackley, Andrew (2016) Archiving the Games: collecting, storing and disseminating the London 2012 knowledge legacy. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis examines attempts made by the British Library (BL) and other memory institutions in the UK to archive the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It has a specific focus on the intersections between collecting, storing and disseminating the Games’ knowledge legacy. The thesis makes an original contribution to the sparse body of research into archiving sport and Olympic content. It adopts a distinctive theoretical framework and offers a critical interpretation of qualitative data gathered from interviews with key actors and memory institution agencies about their approach to sport and London 2012 in particular.

The awarding of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to London in 2005 represented a significant moment for the UK, as the city became the first to host three Games. The origins of the bid to host the Games stretch back to the late 1990s representing over 12 years worth of content generated in relation to this event. The stark contrast between the wealth of information this represented and the disparate, fragmentary record that remained from the 1908 and 1948 Games highlighted a concern that a significant opportunity to capture and document important sports mega-event content might be missed.

The findings of the thesis demonstrate that the collection, storage and dissemination of London 2012’s knowledge legacy rely upon several factors. These include: the availability of sufficient funding; attitudes of individuals within memory institutions towards sport and archives; an abundance of ‘digital immigrants’ within memory institutions; and the value of content beyond sport. In addition, the evidence establishes that early intervention is essential to form a comprehensive archive of the Games and, furthermore, that obtaining custody of this content is crucial for memory institutions to provide a useful knowledge legacy for sports mega-events.

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