Innovative Practices in Archives & Special Collections: Outreach – Table of Contents now available

As many of you may know, I’m editing a series of books on “Innovative Practices in Archives & Special Collections” for Rowman & Littlefield. The first four books are scheduled to be available this May, and I’m pleased to be able to share the list of case studies and contributors for the book on Outreach:

1. The Oregon Archives Crawl: Engaging New Users and Advocates
Diana Banning, Mary B. Hansen, Anne LeVant Prahl, Portland Area Archivists

2. Moved by the Spirit: Opportunistic Promotion of the Hamilton Family Séance Collection
Shelley Sweeney, University of Manitoba

3. Working Within the Law: Public Programming and Continuing Education
Leigh McWhite, University of Mississippi

4. Staying Connected: Engaging Alumni and Students to Digitize the Carl “Pappy” Fehr Choral Music Collection
Amy C. Schindler, College of William & Mary

5. “Pin”pointing Success: Assessing the Value of Pinterest and Historypin for Special Collections Outreach
Mark Baggett, Rabia Gibbs, Alesha Shumar, University of Tennessee

6. Creating a New Learning Center: Designing a Space to Support Multiple Outreach Goals
Dorothy Dougherty, National Archives at New York City

7. “Wikipedia is made of people!”: Revelations from Collaborating with the World’s Most Popular Encyclopedia
Sara Snyder, Archives of American Art

8. 21 Revolutions: New Art from Old Objects
Laura Stevens, Glasgow Women’s Library

9. Happy Accidents and Unintended Consequences: How We Named Our Tribble
Rachael Dreyer, American Heritage Center

10. Navigating Nightingale: Creating an App Out of Archives
Geof Browell, King’s College London

11. DIY History: Redesigning a Platform for a Transcription Crowdsourcing Initiative
Jen Wolfe and Nicole Saylor, University of Iowa

12. Taking Preservation to the People: Educating the Public About Personal Digital Archiving
William LeFurgy, Library of Congress

You can access more information on this book and the others in the series and read some enthusiastic early reviews from Larry Hackman and Terry Baxter on the  Rowman & Littlefield site:

Thanks to all the wonderful contributors and I’m looking forward to seeing all the books in print in May!

Innovative Practices in Archives & Special Collections: Management – Table of Contents now available

As many of you may know, I’m editing a series of books on “Innovative Practices in Archives & Special Collections” for Rowman & Littlefield. The first four books are scheduled to be available this May, and I’m pleased to be able to share the list of case studies and contributors for the book on Management:

1) “We’ll Never Let You Retire!”: Creating a Culture of Knowledge Transfer
Maija Anderson, Oregon Health & Science University Library

2) Raising Cash and Building Connections: Using Kickstarter to Fund and Promote a Cultural Heritage Project
Thomas Smith, Project Gado

3) A Winning Combination: Internships and High-Impact Learning in Archives
Lisa M. Sjoberg, Concordia College

4) A Thief in Our Midst: Special Collections, Archives and Insider Theft
Christopher J. Anderson, Drew University

5) Tackling the Backlog: Conducting a Collections Assessment on a Shoestring
Joanne Archer and Caitlin Wells, University of Maryland Libraries

6) A Platform for Innovation: Creating the Labs Environment at the National Archives of Australia
Zoё D’Arcy, National Archives of Australia

7) Setting Our Own Agenda: Managing the Merger of Archives and Special Collections
Caroline Daniels, Delinda Stephens Buie, Rachel I. Howard, and Elizabeth E. Reilly, University of Louisville

8) Taking Control: Managing Organizational Change in Archives
Fynnette Eaton, Independent Consultant

9) Implementing Pre-Custodial Processing: Engaging Organizations to Invest Resources in their Records
Rob Fisher, Library and Archives Canada

10) Building Effective Leaders: Redesigning the Archives Leadership Institute
Rachel Vagts and Sasha Griffin, Luther College

11) From Evaluation to Implementation: Selecting Archival Management Software
Kira A. Dietz, Virginia Tech

12) More Bang for the Buck: Sharing Personnel and Resources Across Institutions
Erin Passehl-Stoddart and Jodi Allison-Bunnell

13) “Make a New Plan, Stan”: Useful and Painless Strategic Planning
Mark Greene, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

You can access more information on this book and the others in the series and read some enthusiastic early reviews from Michael Kurtz and David Carmichael on the Rowman & Littlefield site:

Thanks to all the wonderful contributors and I’m looking forward to seeing all the books in print in May!

Archives and innovation, or, how I’m spending my summer and (and early fall)

You may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet here (and on Twitter). So, here’s a update.

It can’t possibly have escaped your attention if you follow this blog that I’m editing a series of four books for Scarecrow press, each a compilation of case studies on an area of archival practice: outreach, reference and access, description, and management. Each book will contain ~12ish case studies, so what I am doing and have been doing is lining those up and reviewing drafts.

In addition to that, like the ambitious/crazy person that I am, I want to add something of value to each book that speaks to the meaning of “innovation” in archives and to the development of “innovation” in that area of practice. Will I actually be able to do that? Who knows. But it’s my goal. My tentative outline now for my introduction is:

  • What do we mean when we talk about innovation?
  • Is there a history of innovation in archives/spec coll in US?
  • What has the development of this area looked like? Have there been past periods of innovation? (Based on analysis of past 40 SAA annual meeting programs & literature review)
  • Overview of case studies and why they represent innovation.

As I said, this might not work out, and it certainly might not end up looking anything like that outline! But as you might imagine, if I really do try to explore the development of each of those four areas of practice in any depth, I’m going to have a pretty hectic summer ahead of me.  So if you see odd tweets about literature from the past or titles of sessions from SAA annual meetings of the ’70s, ’80’s, ’90’s, 00’s, and 10’s, that’s what that’s about.

Wish me luck! (Oh, and don’t forget to make your donation–applicants are flowing in but donations have slowed . . . )


If it’s Thursday, this must be Grand Rapids . ..

I know my travel schedule is nowhere near as hectic as many other people’s but this spring I’ve been on the road quite a bit. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of giving a keynote address to the Society of North Carolina Archivists in Greensboro. I used the opportunity to expand on the blog post about trends facing archives, and I think it went very well. As I said on Twitter, given the relatively small size of the meeting, I was surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) by the overall high quality and diversity of the sessions. I’m happy to come back to SNCA anytime, y’all!

Last week I was in Cape May, New Jersey for the spring meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC). MARAC is my local regional association, so for me those meetings are as much about “fellowship”as attending the sessions. Although the lively Twitter discussion that took place during the session intended to discuss archives and the digital humanities was very useful, and I plan to return to the ideas it sparked as soon as things calm down a bit. It was also lovely to meet some new people, including students from Pitt and Maryland, as well as catch up with familiar faces.

But it’s Thursday, and now I’m in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the adventurous Midwest Archives Conference has invited me to give a plenary address at their annual meeting. I don’t consider myself a “plenary speaker” kind of person, so I’m afraid I won’t bring the “wow factor” that I think a good plenary speaker achieves. But then, I have ridiculously high standards. I’m talking about participatory archives, so there is no doubt I will be enthusiastic and speak quickly. My goals will be for people to 1) laugh, 2) leave with some new ideas, and hopefully 3) leave thinking that this is not only something they should try, but which they could actually do. If I can mange that, I’ll be happy with my performance.

Looking forward to meeting more new people at MAC, but now I have to return to practicing this talk, as the clock rapidly ticks down to the appointed hour . . .

Why are effective use of social media and participatory technologies critical? Winners of the book giveaway contest

Last week I posted a small contest to give away some copies of the recently-published book I edited, A Different Kind of Web: New Connections Between Archives and Our Users. The challenge was to answer this question in a few sentences: “Why are effective use of social media and participatory technologies critical to the success of archives in the future?”

I said I would pick two winners, but there were so many great entries that I couldn’t resist picking three. And they are . . .

From Amanda Hill, currently residing in Canada:

Using the web effectively is just one strand in the outreach work of an archive. It’s a critical one because of its potential reach. Community initiatives (also highly important) reach a local audience but the online presence of an archive stretches beyond that to engage a much wider pool of potentially interested (and interesting) people. If that online presence encourages user participation in the work of the archives then the relevance of that work becomes more obvious and demonstrable to both the users and (crucially) the funders of the service. It breaks down the barriers between ‘expert’ and ‘user’ so that archivists are seen by their public as more ‘us’ than ‘them’. In a future of uncertain funding, an engaged and relevant archive service will be in a strong position when it comes to mobilizing support.

From Yvette Hoitink in The Netherlands:

Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a crowd to understand an archive. Different people will value different aspects of documents. A genealogist may recognize a family member, a local historian a location and a journalist a good story. Similarly, all of them may have knowledge that can contribute to an understanding of the document. Tapping into that wealth of knowledge out there will make archives far more usable and relevant to the public. If we do it well, we can create a snowball effect by making the collections more accessible, thus attracting more people, a portion of whom will pitch in.

So that was the ideological answer, here’s the mundane one: because we have way too many records to ever be able to describe them on all on the level that answers our users’ questions. We simply lack the funding. We can only hope our visitors will help us, if we provide the tools.

At the Nationaal Archief, the National Archives of the Netherlands where I work, we’ve just put registration cards online of Japanese internment camps in the former Dutch East Indies during WWII. The feedback has been incredible, and some of the stories behind the ‘dry’ names on the cards just chilling. It shows the power of a simple new function like a reaction form on all our archival description pages.

And last, but not least, from Josh Zimmerman in our United States:

Social media and participatory technologies provide widely accessible spaces where the public can creatively and meaningfully engage with, use, translate, mashup, comment on, re-envision, manipulate, describe, and ultimately add context and value to our collections and repositories.  They offer room for inviting the public into discussions of the overall societal importance of archives, which will strengthen the archival profession internally, while improving the public perception of our profession.  It will allow archives and archivists to finally realize their role not as guardians or gatekeepers, but as facilitators of relevant and valuable information. They also offer opportunities to lay wide open our decision-making processes for all to see, thus educating users and promoting transparency, accountability, and democracy.

There were at least four people who gave these people a run for their money (or in this case free books), and I’ll be highlighting them as well next week. There were several interesting answers which also argued that, in fact, this was not critical, and I think we can have some interesting discussions about that. But, for now, from Chicago, congratulations to the winners and I hope their responses give you some inspiration. If you didn’t win and want a copy of the book, if you’re here at the SAA meeting I’m available to sign it for you Thursday night in the exhibit hall or any time you see me.

New contest: Win a copy of A Different Kind of Web

The lovely people at SAA have given me a generous supply of complementary copies of my new book A Different Kind of Web: New Connections Between Archives and Our Users, so I’m passing that generosity along to you. I will give away two copies of the new book, one each to the two people who in my opinion send in the best answer to this question:

Why are effective use of social media and participatory technologies critical to the success of archives in the future?

Please email your entry to info[@] and keep your answer limited to a few sentences. You must submit your entry by 12 noon (Chicago time, because I will be at the SAA Annual Meeting) on Wednesday, August 24. I will notify the winners that afternoon and try to post their answers as soon as possible.

(Note that I also have a few copies of the issue of the American Archivist that has the Archives 2.0 article in it, so if you want to receive a copy of that article, you can email me about that as well.)

What is the Meaning of Archives 2.0? (Article available)

In case you missed it, I’ve taken all my musings about how I think Archives 2.0 should be defined and put them into a proper, formal, peer-reviewed article in the American Archivist. “What is the Meaning of Archives 2.0?” is available in the current issue (Volume 74, Number 1 / Spring/Summer 2011). If you’re an SAA member you should have it hand now and also be able to access it on the SAA website. Here’s the abstract:

At first glance the term “Archives 2.0” might refer to the use by archives of Web 2.0 applications, such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. This article proposes a broader definition of Archives 2.0 that includes a comprehensive shift in archival thinking and practice that is related to, but not dependent on, the use of Web 2.0 tools. The article develops this interpretation and explains why this concept provides a useful starting point for conversations about future directions for the archival profession.

If anyone would like a copy of this issue, let me know. I was given a big stack of them and have no idea what I’m going to do with them, so I’m happy to give some out to deserving people. You can see the whole table of contents here. Continue reading “What is the Meaning of Archives 2.0? (Article available)”

The new book is now available: A Different Kind of Web

It’s been a long time in the works, but my new book is now available for purchase from the SAA Bookstore (SAA Member price $49.95; everyone else $69.95). I say “my book” because I conceived the idea and lined up many many smart people to contribute. Don’t believe me? Here’s the table of contents:

Continue reading “The new book is now available: A Different Kind of Web”

Want to get published? I can help you with that.

Well, not if it’s your sword-and-sorcery fantasy novel or revisionist archives romance novel. I can’t help you there.

But if you want to write a book on archives, libraries, cultural heritage organizations, or information science, I can help you. I’ve recently starting working with the delightful people at Neal-Schuman Publishers to help identify new authors and books for them in any of these areas. I’m actively looking for people to submit proposals for books on:

  • electronic records
  • preservation
  • records management and Web 2.0
  • introduction to library, archive and museum practice
  • case studies in archives management
  • planning for commemorations and anniversaries
  • outreach to K-12 audiences
  • how archives, libraries and special collections can meet the needs of genealogists and family historians

So if you want to discuss writing a book on one of these topics, or anything that relates to archives, libraries, museums, or information science, let me know. You can reach me at

Don’t let the thought of writing a book intimidate you. I had no experience writing anything longer than a blog post for publication when I signed a contract to write my first book. I can discuss the process with you and answer your questions, and hopefully identify a viable topic. I know a lot of people who had “work on a publication” on their list of resolutions for this year, so this is your chance. Think about what you want to write and get in touch.

International fame and eternal glory for your archives’ Web 2.0 efforts?

No, it’s not time for the Best Archives on the Web awards (coming soon–I promise!). No, I’m writing to solicit suggestions for what projects I should highlight in two upcoming presentations I’m giving on archives use of Web 2.0–one is a workshop at the Association of Canadian Archivists conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia in June (early bird registration closes on April 23–register now!), the other is a talk at the Brazilian Congress on Archival Science, sponsored by the Associação dos Arquivistas Brasileiros to be held in Santos, São Paulo in August. My talk for the Brazilian Congress will be published in the conference proceedings, and I am considering reworking it for submission to one of our esteemed professional journals.

So, since everyone is rushing around doing great projects and there’s no way I can keep track of everything, I want to make sure I know about the latest and greatest to highlight in the workshop (a day long this time!) and the talk (and maybe the article too). That’s where you come in. If your archives, special collection, or historical society (or one you know about) is doing something innovative with blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, podcasting, social tagging, mashups, mobile apps, or anything else social-media-y, let me know in the comments. What do I mean by innovative? Well, if you think it’s cool, then let’s say it qualifies. If you don’t want to brag in public or just want to keep it under wraps for now, send me an email at info [at] Since these events are outside the United States, I’m particularly interested in hearing about efforts in Canada and the rest of the English-speaking world. (Or, yes, outside the English-speaking world as well. There are web translators after all.)

And, of course, if you just want to make sure people know about your maybe-not-so-innovative-but-still-really-good blog, podcast, Flickr account, FB page, etc. please add it to the Archives 2.0 wiki.