Visiting With Our Friends In Massachusetts
Last week Grant & I had the opportunity to spend some time visiting a few of our library partners in Massachusetts. Sadly, we only had a few short days, and didn’t have much of an opportunity to sightsee, or to visit as many libraries as we would have liked. However, the libraries we did visit, were breathtaking. The history was rich, and the hospitality was wonderful. Grant can’t wait to go back.
Unfortunately, I rarely get out of the office, but this trip reminded me that I need to do so more often. The conversations with the library directors of Massachusetts, reaffirmed that we are doing the right thing, in the right way, and for the right reasons. It also reinforced that our “for the community, by the community” approach matters. I was so happy to once again have the chance to sit face-to-face with our partners, and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed that part of my “job”.
Throughout the trip, it seemed all of our conversations shared 3common themes:
• Partnerships Matter: We believe strongly in building strong partnerships, which is why we enter into them with the intent of shouldering our fair share, and taking the burden off of the community for the ongoing costs associated with storage, hosting, development, and maintenance of the Community’s History Archive. We are an active participant in the community’s efforts to make their collective history more accessible.
• It’s About The Community: While newspapers are the logical place to start in building a digital archive for your community, it is just a foundation that can be built upon. From the day we started Advantage Preservation, we had made a very conscious decision not to call our online search platform a “Community Newspaper Archive”, but rather a Community History Archive. Our friends in Massachusetts have some pretty great ideas on what they plan to add next. Everything from correspondence, journals, atlases, maps, vital statistics and more were discussed, and their excitement of what came next, excited me about their plans.
• The Archive Is A Community Engagement Tool: When is the last time you saw anyone under 25 sitting at the breakfast table with a cup of coffee reading the morning paper? They are more likely to have their face glued to a screen, as opposed to the sports section. The next generation speaks in 140 characters or less, and digests information much differently than their parents. A Community History Archive is so much more than a research data base, it is an outreach vehicle as well. The concept is simple. Explore. Discover. Learn. Share. Connect. You can reach the community In new ways when it is utilized in conjunction with a Social Media strategy, empowering students to use primary sources that will help them see historical events with a local perspective, creating “games” like a Treasure Hunt Through Time, or even sharing background of local landmarks, business, or anniversaries. The pages in the archives also make for great additions to newsletters, blogs, or promotional messaging. Sometimes just sharing a funny article, an old ad, or a picture of your dad in a lime green leisure suit from 1972 is all it takes to get the community talking.
Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some stories, and highlighting some of our friends’ libraries & communities history from our trip.
For instance, I can’t wait to talk about the awesome Newbury Port Public Library where the picture above was taken. Newburyport was one of the first ten communities in Massachusetts to establish a public library. Grant’s friend Gisele, has been an amazing partner in our efforts, and I absolutely loved her community’s library. The Newbury Port’s Community History Archive is fascinating. Before the trip, I did a little “time traveling” through the archive to learn more about Newbury. I thought I would spend fifteen or twenty minutes getting a bit of a feel for the community, but after the very first page I pulled up (below), I knew I should make myself comfortable, because there was so much to explore. Not to mention Discover, Learn, Share, & Connect with.
To all of our friends in Massachusetts, thank you for sharing your community’s history with us.