In the past few hours I’ve thrown together a more textually focused blog to serve as an outlet to address issues surrounding archives, digital collections, and social media sorts of things, so if you’re into that sort of stuff - give it a whirl. More articles are hopefully soon to come.
A recent development of the Smithsonian institutions, Smithsonian X 3D allows users to view and print 3D renderings of artifacts of historical significance ranging from a wooly mammoth skeleton to the flight suit of Amelia Earhart. Bringing users and rare learning materials closer together, this Smithsonian project illustrates the innovative means in which learning institutions are giving collections new life through emergent technologies.
“With only 1% of collections on display in Smithsonian museum galleries, digitization affords the opportunity to bring the remaining 99% of the collection into the virtual light. All of these digital assets become the infrastructure which will allow not just the Smithsonian, but the world at large to tell new stories about the familiar, as well as the unfamiliar, treasures in these collections." - Günter Waibel, Digitization Program Director
Tumblr and Why Archival Institutions Should Try It
Earlier this afternoon I presented a group project on the use of social media for archives and figured that our findings shouldn’t be limited to the classroom. While each institution has it’s own needs from a social media presence, some tools prove more useful than others. After each of us looked deeper into the specs of multiple social media platforms, we uncovered that Tumblr could very well be the most underutilized social media tool for archives - and here’s why.
It’s free. Budgets can be tough, folks. Tumblr can provide you with a free [not to mention ad free] blog.
It supports multiple media types. From sharing announcements, posting events, collection highlights, articles, related links, or even video or sound recordings, Tumblr has you covered. Not only does it incorporate these many elements, but it presents them in a seamless display which can even be viewed on a monthly, or even yearly scale, through the Archive function.
No knowledge of HTML or CSS required. For those more code savvy users, you can create a custom layout for your blog, but for the rest of us, you can select a free [and often highly customizable] layout from the Theme Garden.
The opportunity to boost collection visibility and interest. By posting collection highlights to this visually driven platform, you can enhance public interest from a single archival object to the institution as a whole. As you post new material, users may also share them with their own subscribers to signal boost your highlighted material.
#History has it’s very own tag here on Tumblr. If your recently digitized material is seeking new audiences, being featured by an editor under the tag will enhance the visibility of your unique content.
Outreach. There are a lot of people on Tumblr. Especially young people. Posting all the time. While many social media platforms can connect an institution to interested parties, Tumblr enables viewers to subscribe to your blog - displaying your material you post on their Dashboard from that point forward.
You can create a new sense of place for an archival collection. By accumulating a strong collection of visual media, news, events, and outreach - you create a new space in which users can learn more about both collections and institutions as a whole.