Lighting the Way was a project led by Stanford University Libraries running from September 2019-August 2021 focused on convening a series of meetings focused on improving discovery and delivery for archives and special collections. Through the Forum (February 2020) and Working Meeting (Spring 2021), the project allowed archives, library, and technology workers to collaborate in facilitated activities to support strategic planning for archival programs. This site provides information on the project, its events, and its deliverables, as well as project findings and areas of future work.

Archival discovery and delivery is how the Lighting the Way project describes what people, processes, and systems do to support finding, accessing, and using material from archives and special collections. This work is necessarily performed by people in a variety of roles – not just archives workers, but library workers, technology workers, and others with varying skill sets, areas of expertise, levels of responsibility, and positional power within their institutions. Part of the challenge is to determine how to effectively align the people, processes, and systems that fit into this broader function. It requires close collaboration across job roles and responsibilities, departments, and institutions, like other areas of work, but in some senses is the least understood given these complexities. “Archival discovery and delivery” is thus intended to underscore the complexity and interdependence, and to take a more expansive view of this work than solely focusing on technical development and implementation.

Through engaging archives, library, and technology workers, Lighting the Way seeks to build consensus around strategic and technical directions to improve user experience, access, and collaboration supporting archival discovery and delivery, and to provide a model for values-driven technology work within archives and special collections. Our overall goal is to develop a forward-looking agenda describing an ethical, equitable, sustainable, and well-integrated future for archives and special collections.

Project funding

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, through grant LG-35-19-0012-19. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. To learn more, visit