• Engaging and Serving Diverse User Communities

    I am interested in continuing and enlarging upon a discussion that began last year on serving diverse user communities.  My institution is a history museum complex (and under its umbrella, our research library and archives) serving a broad general public.  We serve a diverse set of user communities, including a range of staff, academic researchers, amateur researchers and enthusiasts, and casual visitors, both in person and remotely.

    This topic may be more geared towards archivists and librarians, but I welcome the input of other campers and their experiences in engaging and working with different audiences.  I would also be very interested in hearing from researchers about their experiences from “the other side of the desk” and how research libraries and archives can make our spaces more accessible and inviting through technology or other means.  I’d also like to discuss what kinds of expertise we can gain from our users.

    Where are we to date?  We are in the beginning stages of a major collections digitization initiative and transitioning to a new collections management system which will allow improved remote access to our collections, and possibly more integration of our artifact and archival collections.  Some of the issues raised in my colleagues’ LAM discussion (q.v.) may also dovetail with this one, as we explore ways not only to make history and our collections more accessible to our museum visitors, but also provide remote access to researchers needing to make a deeper dive into our collections (currently by the means of creating PDFs of our paper finding aids and linking them to our online catalog records).  As to social media, we have a unified social media presence that is managed by public relations, with input from other units, plus individuals on Twitter.  We are interested in doing user studies, but have not yet implemented this.  We are embarking on a pilot program to allow the use of digital cameras in the reading room.  We have an active and dedicated volunteer corps.  And more…

    But enough about us!  There must be all kinds of ideas and insights out there, and I’d really like to steal hear them.

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