Let’s take a closer look at the winners of the Best Archives on the Web Awards for the category Best Institutional Blog.
“Historical Notes from OHSU” highlights the collections of Oregon Health & Science University’s Historical Collections & Archives. It’s difficult to point to any one thing that made this blog stand out above its competitors. It doesn’t do anything new or flashy–it just does everything very, very well. As one of the judges wrote:
Given that it started in 2006, “Historical Notes from OHSU” is remarkable for its ability to maintain such a high quality of content over this long a period of time. The posts are informative, well-written, and open up the processes of the archives in a valuable way. This is a great example of a blog bringing visibility to collections–and an institution–that most of us would probably never have heard of without it. Plus it has cool pictures!
(Although sometimes the pictures get a little too unsettling for squeamish people like me!) “Historical Notes from OHSU” is a perfect example of everything an institutional blog should be.
I had certainly never heard of the Forest History Society, and I’d be willing to bet most of you hadn’t either, but they’ve been in existence since 1946 as:
a nonprofit educational institution that links the past to the future by identifying, collecting, preserving, interpreting, and disseminating information on the history of interactions between people, forests, and their related resources — timber, water, soil, forage, fish and wildlife, recreation, and scenic or spiritual values.
“Peeling Back the Bark” (great name!) highlights the collections of the Society’s Alvin J. Huss Archives which is home to a variety of important collections on American forestry. Like the previous winner, “Peeling Back the Bark” does a great job promoting the goals of its parent institution and bringing knowledge about its collections to a world-wide audience. One judge noted that this blog had:
Interesting short articles with lots and lots of archival focus. Best of all, there is evidence of an active readership of this blog–lots of comments for an archives’ blog.
These two blogs exemplified what we were looking for in judging this category–well-written, informative content delivered on a regular basis that highlighted collections and the work of archivists that also was entertaining to read and made you want to keep coming back.
I think the judges would agree that all the nominated sites in this category are excellent institutional blogs. I’m happy to say that the use of blogs in our profession has matured to the point that when we were reviewing the nominees we were trying to select from among a very competitive group.
One blog that came very close to the top in judges’ scoring was selected for an Honorable Mention:
Produced by the Brooklyn Public Library, “Brooklynology” is, as one judge put it:
A great little blog. Lively. With different kinds of content. Very accessible to the general public, yet fully archival.
You may smile at the “yet fully archival” statement, but that’s part of what we were looking for. Does the blog convey to the public a sense of what an archives is and what it does? “Brooklynology” does that, but it also does it within the larger context of a public library web site, without presenting the archives as something separate and foreign.
(Earlier this year one of the members of the “Brooklynology” team did an interview over on the Ephemera blog. It’s short, but worth reading.)
I could probably go on like this about all the nominees, because they were all excellent and most had aspects that were really outstanding. Thanks to everyone who sent in nominations, and I expect the judges will have an even tougher time with their selection next year!