Notes from Web 2.0 breakout session, RAO section meeting, Friday, August 14, 2009
Matt Pierce, Utah Valley Real Estate, Kathy Marquis, Albany County Public Library (WY)
Attendees ranged from archivists curious about the applications of Web 2.0, but unfamiliar with how to use or create them, to Kate Theimer, who is writing a book on the topic. Many of us used Facebook, Twitter, personal and work blogs, and other social networking sites in our personal lives, but fewer had yet implemented them on behalf of our workplaces. Some members had been encouraged to explore these venues by their administrations. However, others worked in shops (many were government archvists) where access to all social networking sites was blocked.
We each spoke about an aspect of Web 2.0 which we are currently using – and also one which we’d like to explore further. In the latter category, members said they would like to know how to use Web 2.0 to communicate between departments in their institution, mount sound recordings online, keep up with freshmen at their university who are already engaged in this technology, and determine if creating a blog would be worth staff time to keep updated.
Kathy Marquis began by posing a question of the group. She asked Shelley Sweeney, Archivist at the University of Manitoba to recount her experiences when the University Archives mounted a video, created from historic still photographs of séances in the UA, on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0HncGNBCqY). She found a local film student who was willing to write music for the film, and the video went viral. Ultimately, they have had 94,000 hits. We asked: would you consider these people users of your archives? The answers in the group of about ten people were varied. Some said yes, they would mention this user group in their annual report. Others wouldn’t consider them users, strictly speaking, but would mention the whole phenomenon as outreach.
We talked about the website 23 Things for Libraries (http://sjlibrary23.blogspot.com) which is a self-paced set of lessons about 23 applications of Web 2.0. You learn about one, such as blogging, and then you start your own blog. Then you move on to another Thing, like Flickr for sharing photographs, and you create an account – and go back and blog about your experience. Kate mentioned that this program was meant to be a group experience, so you learn from others as you try out new Things. We all agreed that this would be a wonderful way for RAO to help its members: a subgroup of RAO is working on “23 Things for Archivists,” using archival sites as examples. When it is ready, it would be helpful to members if we attempted to try the Things together and contribute to the RAO blog about our experiences and questions.
We talked about the time implications for keeping blogs and other sites updated, to maintain user interest. Blogging, depending on technique, may be hard to catch on. A good idea is to seed it with interesting content from our collections. One example is “A View to Hugh” (http://www.lib.unc.edu/blogs/morton), the Hugh Morton archive in North Carolina which uses his writing in a way that draws an audience. Another famous example is a blog showcasing the letters of a World War I soldier (http://wwar1.blogspot.com). This was done by a private individual, using his grandfather’s letters home. He released them over time, corresponding to the current month and day, as the letters were dated. Readers were on the edge of their seats, wondering if the young soldier lived through the war. Kate mentioned that Cornell University recently published an update of Peter Hirtle’s very useful chart for determining if you are in copyright compliance when allowing publication, or mounting items on the Internet, from your collections (http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm).
Some archival blogs are about processing decisions, what it’s like to work in an archives. The Polar Bear collection at the Bentley Historical Society (http://polarbears.si.umich.edu) is interactive and encourages researcher questions. This led to comments about the value of wikis for capturing commonly asked questions and their answers, for the public to search. Other wikis are for internal use and make policies and internal finding aids accessible to all staff via the web. Montana State Historical Society maintains a very useful wiki (http://montanahistorywiki.pbworks.com) on state history. There is the option to restrict access to these applications, even though they are on the web, so that they can be used internally.
We discussed installing a chat widget from Meebo.com - http://www.meebo.com/about - (a free device.) There is an option to leave a message when the staffer is offline, but it’s hard to remember to turn it off. Nova Scotia archives sends out “tweets” about the province on Twitter, reminding them of the value of their archives.
The group also requested that the RAO section consider placing something on our website which clarifies that we believe that exploring Web 2.0 applications is a valuable way to communicate with our researchers – as well as keeping us current on the newer technology updates. They would also like to see lists of good examples (don’t have to be the absolute best, just helpful, creative, unique, etc.), again to encourage resistant administrators not to be afraid of these techniques and to let archivists explore them outreach purposes.
- RAO Section internship available
- Advocacy break out session notes
- National History Day break out session notes
- Web 2.0 break out session discussion notes
- MPLP Group Discussion Notes
- Metrics and User Studies Group Discussion Notes
- RAO Mission Discussion Group
- Annual Meeting Recap: Roll with the Changes
- Annual Meeting Reminder: This Time We Mean It
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