|The Smithsonian Institution Archives new website is "seriously amazing!"|
In that same blog post I also briefly highlighted efforts by the National Archives to embrace social media to connect with their audience. Today, I'd like to show you another example of an institution that has made effective use of social media.
The National Council on Public History recently highlighted on their blog, Off the Wall, the work of the Smithsonian Institution Archives, which recently launched a new website, and has done a remarkable job of making the archives accessible and engaging to its online audience.
As Off the Wall points out, "the Smithsonian's new website is geared towards engaging a broad audience of online users with its content..."
On the homepage are links to a blog, discussion forum, featured exhibits, and a section called "Today in Smithsonian History." Perhaps most interesting is the extent to which the institution has embraced the interactive web in creating this site. For example, the current front page features a link to the Smithsonian's photostream on Flickr, which displays rare photographs from the Scopes trial. (These photos were discovered by a volunteer researcher at the archives in the records of the Science Service and published in Reframing Scopes: Journalists, Scientists, and Lost Photographs from the Trial of the Century.)
And from a social media perspective, the website is a gold mine, with lots of fascinating things to tweet and post to Facebook. Given the prominent social media logos on the homepage, this was clearly a major topic of discussion in the development process.
The Smithsonian has also launched a new branding campaign, shedding its image as the "Nation's Attic" and embracing a new emphasis on the visitor with customized experiences and a more direct delivery of information through social media. For those of you who are looking for a template for how to utilize social media in your own archives, I'd encourage you to read more from the NCPH Off the Wall blog, and visit the Smithsonian Institution Archives website for ideas and inspiration. It's "Seriously Amazing."
Gordon Belt is an information professional, special collections librarian, archives advocate, public historian, research consultant, and founding editor of The Posterity Project. He is the current president of the Society of Tennessee Archivists, and serves as Treasurer of TSLAFriends, the friends organization of the Tennessee State Library and Archives. As an extension of The Posterity Project, Gordon also offers short-term, project-based historical research and social media consulting services to archives, museums, historical societies, cultural heritage organizations, small businesses, authors, and individuals. Contact Gordon to find out how he can help you "Document the links to your past."