Increasing NARA use of social media–good news, but still much room for improvement

Coincidentally, there is good news to report on our National Archives’ use of social media in the same week that I’m wrapping up the series of blog posts that asks for reader suggestions about how NARA can increase its interactivity, transparency, and openness. If you have ideas or suggestions for how NARA could be making better use of social media such as blogs, social networks (like Facebook and MySpace), Flickr, YouTube, SecondLife, podcasting, or Twitter, etc., please leave your ideas in the comments.

Today marked the re-launch of NARA’s first blog, now known as Records Express:

the official blog of the National Records Management Program (NRMP) at the National Archives. The NRMP provides records management leadership, oversight, guidance, and service to Federal agencies so they will appropriately manage their records. As a result of that work, NARA can properly preserve and provide access to records that document the national experience and protect legal rights.

While the audience for this blog may not be as large as the audience for more researcher-oriented topics, it is great to see NARA produce a blog for this more targeted and specialized audience. Given the embrace of archivists and librarians contributing to blogs at the New York Public Library under David Ferriero’s leadership, we hope we can see the same kind of activity at NARA soon. (Note in particular the use of “blog channels” at NYPL, and the variety of topics covered, and imagine what would be possible with NARA’s equally diverse collections.)

While NARA has made a great deal of progress recently in creating a presence on most major social media sites, I still think that in general their participation lacks the kind of sophistication we see from many other national archives, museums, and libraries. They are using the tools and sharing content, but I have the impression that there is no overall strategy for what material is shared or what the goals are. I would like to see NARA follow the model presented by the Smithsonian in Smithsonian 2.0, the open and collaborative development of the Smithsonian Web and New Media Strategy.

Do you have any suggestions for how NARA could improve their use of social media? Are there any organizations you think could serve as models in this area?

And, just a reminder, if you want to submit comments to NARA for consideration as they develop their open government plan, those comments are due by this Friday, March 19. I’ll be collecting the ideas I’ve shared here as well as the ideas shared in the comments and submitting them, and I encourage you to share your ideas too.

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