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Create An Online “Meeting Place” For Community History Archive Users

Community engagement is at the heart of a modern library’s mission. Today, social media, blogging, and online forums offer a powerful toolbox to foster community around your library’s resources, including the Community History Archives. By leveraging the power of social media platforms and other online spaces, libraries can connect with their patrons in ways never before possible.

Social media allows users to share their discoveries and experiences related to the Community History Archives. User-generated content helps build a robust online community and enables libraries to tap into diverse narratives of local history.

Social media platforms can transform static historical records into interactive experiences. Libraries can create Instagram stories highlighting significant events, TikTok videos showcasing fascinating tidbits from the archives, or Pinterest boards grouping content around specific themes. Creating a dedicated hashtag on Instagram or Twitter allows users to share their discoveries and experiences related to the Community History Archives.

Platforms like Facebook and YouTube enable libraries to host virtual events, webinars, or live-stream sessions. These could range from live streaming “Community History Nights” focused on different eras or events to “Ask a Historian” sessions, where community members could ask questions about local history.

 

 

With the huge percentage of the population using social media platforms, libraries can harness these digital meeting places to create vibrant online communities centered around their Community History Archives and have the potential to broaden the library’s reach, exposing the Community History Archives to a larger audience. Some of the most utilized platforms include:

Facebook Groups: Building a Community Hub:

As one of the most widely used social media platforms worldwide, Facebook offers an array of tools for libraries to foster community engagement around their Community History Archives. The platform’s versatile features can facilitate conversation, promote events, and spotlight stories from the archives. Here’s how Facebook can help bring your community together.

Creating a Facebook group dedicated to your Community History Archives allows patrons to engage with the library and each other, sharing their discoveries, asking questions, or initiating discussions around historical topics. Facebook groups provide a dynamic, real-time space for patrons to interact around the Community History Archives. This level of interaction helps build a strong sense of community, as patrons feel directly involved in exploring and interpreting local history.

The interactive nature of Facebook groups also allows for a variety of engaging activities. You can host live Q&A sessions, create polls to gauge patrons’ interests, or share multimedia content such as historical photos or videos from your archives. Remember to keep the conversation flowing by actively moderating and participating in the group discussions.

Instagram: The Power Of Images For Visualizing History

Instagram offers a visual and interactive platform that can significantly enhance community engagement around your Community History Archives. Its features allow for a unique blend of storytelling, user interaction, and wide-reaching visibility. When effectively leveraged, Instagram can play a key role in creating a vibrant, engaged online community centered around the exploration and appreciation of local history.

One of Instagram’s primary strengths is its emphasis on visual content. Libraries can use this to their advantage by sharing compelling images from the Community History Archives. This could include photographs, scanned documents, or even snippets of newspaper articles. Pair these images with engaging captions that provide historical context, spark curiosity, or prompt discussion.

Instagram’s hashtag and location tagging features can help increase the visibility of your posts, allowing you to reach more patrons and even attract a wider community interested in history. Creating a unique hashtag for your library can also help consolidate all related posts and make it easier for patrons to find and engage with your content.

Pinterest: Curating Themed Boards

Pinterest, with its visual-centric and organizational nature, can be a fantastic tool for libraries to visually share and organize content from their Community History Archives, facilitating engagement and discovery. 

Pinterest’s visual and curatorial nature can be a unique tool for libraries. Create Pinterest boards around themes, events, or periods from your local history. For instance, a board could be dedicated to “Fashion in the 1920s” or “Architecture of Our Town”. By pinning images from your Community History Archives, you can provide a visual journey through various aspects of local history.

The Story Pins feature can be used to create a narrative around a certain topic or event from your local history. Each slide of a Story Pin could present an image from the archives, accompanied by a short description or fact. This interactive format can make the historical journey more engaging and immersive for the patrons. Pinterest’s search and discoverability features can help attract people interested in history and related topics, extending your reach beyond your usual patron base.

TikTok: Reaching Younger Audiences

TikTok’s booming popularity and its unique format offer libraries a fresh, creative avenue to engage with their community, particularly younger patrons. Through a mix of creativity, authenticity, and fun, TikTok can be harnessed to foster engagement around your library’s Community History Archives. 

Known for its short, engaging videos and large youth demographic, TikTok is a platform worth exploring. Libraries can create fun, educational videos about their Community History Archives. This could be a quick story about an interesting historical event, a fun fact about a piece from the archives, or a challenge asking users to find certain information within the archive. The creative, informal nature of TikTok content can make local history more approachable and engaging, particularly for younger audiences.

Tutorials are popular on TikTok, and libraries can use this format to guide patrons on how to use the Community History Archives. To spark interest and interaction, set up challenges encouraging users to find certain historical facts or solve a mystery using the archives. Encourage users to share their findings or solutions using a unique hashtag, fostering a sense of community and shared achievement.

Snapchat: Sharing History In Stories and Snaps

Snapchat, with its dynamic and ephemeral nature, can be a unique tool for libraries to engage their patrons, particularly younger audiences. Snapchat is well-known for its brief, disappearing content. Libraries can leverage this feature by sharing quick, intriguing highlights from the Community History Archives. This could be a fascinating historical fact, a snapshot of an old newspaper article, or a teaser of a new addition to the archives.

Snapchat’s filters and lenses provide a fun, interactive element to your posts. You can create custom filters for your library or specific events, incorporating elements of your historical collection. Imagine a filter that overlays an old map of the city or a lens that places a historical figure in the user’s environment – these tools can create a fun, educational, and immersive experience for your audience.

Snapchat’s casual, raw style also makes it perfect for sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses of the library. Show patrons how the archives are used, share the process of digitizing a historical newspaper, or introduce the library staff. This transparency can create a sense of intimacy and involvement, fostering deeper community engagement.

Reddit Subreddits: An Avenue To Engage With A Whole New Audience

Reddit is a platform known for its engaged users and in-depth discussions. Creating a subreddit for your Community History Archives provides a space where patrons can delve deeper into historical topics, ask questions, and engage in spirited discussions. Reddit provides an avenue to engage with your local patrons and a global community of history enthusiasts. Subreddits, with their “upvote” system, allow your users to increase visibility to the topics they find most interesting, which is also a great way to see which topics resonate most with your audience.

You can post intriguing snippets from your Community History Archives, invite patrons to share their research or host AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions with historians or library staff. Reddit’s diverse, engaged user base provides an excellent opportunity to bring wider attention to your library’s resources and activities.

You can also identify other relevant subreddits where your community members might also be active, such as subreddits for your town, state, or history-related topics. Share (crosspost) content from your subreddit to these places, bringing more visibility to your Community History Archives and potentially attracting more users to your subreddit.

LinkedIn: Connecting with Professionals and Researchers

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, and while LinkedIn might seem more business-focused, it can also be a valuable platform for libraries. LinkedIn allows libraries to connect with professionals, educators, researchers, and history enthusiasts at a more professional level.

LinkedIn is a great platform to share updates about your Community History Archives. Regular posts about new additions to the archives, upcoming events, or interesting discoveries can keep your professional community informed and engaged.

Furthermore, LinkedIn’s Article feature allows for longer, more in-depth posts. You could use this to dive deeper into local history topics, discuss the process of digitizing newspapers, or share significant research facilitated by your archives.

LinkedIn Groups can provide a focused space for professional discussions related to your Community History Archives. Create a group for your library where you can initiate discussions about local history, ask for input or feedback, and let members share their own discoveries or experiences with the archives.

YouTube: Sharing Video Content

YouTube, being the largest video-sharing platform, offers numerous possibilities. With its vast user base, YouTube is a fantastic platform for sharing video content. This could include guided tours of your library’s Community History Archives, interviews with local historians, or short documentaries on local history using your archived materials.

Patrons can get involved by submitting creative content like reading articles “in character” wearing the garb of the era, creating mini-documentaries on local history topics, or sharing “then and now” content of products or business today vs. ads and articles they found in the archive. 

Library staff, genealogists, and enthusiastic patrons can create tutorials on navigating the Community History Archives or tips, tricks, and best practices on how others can be more successful in finding what they are looking for. YouTube’s comment section can serve as a space for viewers to share their thoughts, ask questions, or discuss the video content. Furthermore, by optimizing video descriptions and tags, you can increase the visibility of your content to reach a broader audience interested in history and archival work.

Twitter Hashtags: Sparking Conversations:

Despite its current issues and divisive politics, in the past Twitter’s fast-paced, concise format has been a proven method for sparking discussions and sharing quick highlights from your Community History Archives. Creating a unique hashtag for your library can help consolidate these conversations and make it easy for patrons to follow along.

Regularly tweet interesting findings from the archives using this hashtag and encourage patrons to do the same. You can also host Twitter Chats and scheduled conversations around a specific topic to drive engagement.

Online Forums: Deep Dives into History:

An online forum dedicated to your Community History Archives can support in-depth discussions and exploration. Unlike social media platforms, forums tend to support longer-form content and can host structured, ongoing conversations around specific topics. 

Creating different sections for various historical eras or topics can help patrons navigate the forum. Inviting experts to participate in the forum can also add depth to the discussions and provide valuable learning experiences for the community.

Blogging: Your Library’s Storytelling Platform:

A blog can serve as the heart of your library’s online presence. Here, you can share in-depth stories from your Community History Archives, highlight interesting discoveries made by patrons, or even provide a behind-the-scenes look at the archiving process. Libraries can use blogs to drive exploration and dialogue around historical collections, inviting patrons to share their thoughts and insights in the comments section.

Additionally, blogs serve as an excellent source of user-generated content. Encourage patrons to submit articles about their experiences with the archives or share personal stories related to local history. This kind of engagement fosters a deeper connection between the patron and the library and helps build a rich repository of community-created content that can be repurposed for newsletters or social media. Some of the most popular avenues include:

There are also several social media or online content platforms that libraries would consider as  “less traditional” vehicles to feature your Community History Archive as a community engagement tool. While they seem like unlikely candidates, utilizing some of these alternative platforms in addition to the “usual suspects” can make for an interesting opportunity for community engagement, targeting different demographic where they interact:

  • Twitch: Primarily used for video game streaming, Twitch is becoming a platform for all sorts of live-streamed content. Libraries could host live sessions exploring the Community History Archives, conducting Q&A sessions, or even ‘history gaming’ events where patrons participate in history-themed games or quizzes.
  • Discord: Discord is a communication platform originally designed for gamers but has expanded to accommodate a variety of communities. Libraries could create a Discord server where patrons can discuss findings from the Community History Archives, participate in digital events, and maintain a sense of community.
  • Clubhouse: Clubhouse is an audio-chat social networking app where users can start and join conversations on a multitude of topics. Libraries can host regular rooms discussing local history, with themes derived from the Community History Archives.
  • Medium: As a blogging platform, Medium could be used to publish longer-form content related to your Community History Archives, like in-depth explorations of certain topics, profiles on historical figures from your community, or opinion pieces on the relevance of local history.
  • Quora: Libraries could use Quora to answer questions about local history, using information and resources from the Community History Archives. This not only spreads knowledge but also raises awareness about the resources your library offers.
  • Goodreads: On this platform, libraries could create reading groups centered around local history, using texts referenced in or related to the Community History Archives.
  • These platforms each offer unique ways for libraries to engage with their patrons, share knowledge, and foster a sense of community. As always, the best platforms for your library will depend on the needs and interests of your community, as well as the resources your library has to manage these digital spaces.

Social media and other online spaces offer libraries exciting new avenues to engage with patrons and build vibrant communities around their resources. Creating an online meeting place for your Community History Archives users allows you to facilitate rich discussions, invite user-generated content, and ultimately foster a deeper appreciation for local history within your community. The keys to success lie in choosing the right platforms for your specific community, encouraging active participation, and fostering an atmosphere of openness.

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