Old Stuff, New Tricks: How Archivists Are Making Special Collections Even More Special Using Web 2.0 Technologies

Yesterday Jessica* Lacher-Feldman, a University of Alabama archivist, chaired a session of the American Association for History and Computing that included archivists Jean L. Root Green of Binghamton University and Amy C. Schindler of the College of William and Mary, as well as archivist and applications developer Mark Matienzo of the New York Public Library.

The four led a wide-ranging discussion of the myriad ways that archivists are using web 2.0 technologies. Blogs, of course, have been in use for some time, and are the most common and well established way to promote collections to the public. Beyond this, however, many of the other web 2.0 methods are in much more experimental phases.

The presenters noted the growing use of Flickr Commons as a place to post photos from collections. Others are starting to use specialized content management systems to present online digital collections – and some are doing both at the same time. The presenters also discussed the use of social networking sites such as Facebook as a way to get acquainted and interact with a general audience. There is also a growing use of wikis to publish bits and pieces of information that might have originally been researched to answer a question.

All in all, it is clear that the future growth and transformation of digital technologies will continue to impact the presentation and preservation of archival materials for some time to come.

*Jessica Lacher-Feldman, not Jennifer as was earlier stated.

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  1. Ollie @ History Times

    Vernon, thanks for your observation – indeed when you consider that the Web is only 5000 days old (well somewhat more than that now of course) we’ve only just begun dipping our toes in the water of this new media.

    The brilliant Kevin Kelly lecture on video below shows exactly why the points you cover in your post can only really point one way.


    It’s fabulous technology but as ever it’s only as good as the orginal content at the heart of it.

    Rubbish in rubbish out is what springs to mind… especially, dare I say it with all those new Wikis everywhere.

    Thanks again,

    Ollie Alston