by terence k. huwe
Director of Library and Information Resources
Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
University of California–Berkeley
Online History-Keeping for Outreach
and Community Development
AS PUBLIC Our rapidly evolving digital world inspires right place to experiment with new content cre-
much use of nautical terminology: navigation, ation and to involve its community in this ex-
discovery, the voyage, the new terrain at the end perimentation. Many attendees wanted to talk
LIBRARIANS of the journey. Considering how quickly new to me about how to use digital tools in creative
technologies are arriving on our smartphones, (and low-cost) ways to create a digital library—
DEVELOP the nautical adventure is continuing at an in- or even a full-blown social community—that
creased pace. Innovations in basic library services was built around local history. Here’s what I’ve
follow big successes in the marketplace, such as been thinking about on that point.
VIBRANT blogs, microblogs, and social media domains.
Although they look much the same as they have
ADD-ON for the past 10 years or so, large-scale library util-
ities include new functionalities and links to All my conversations with public and aca-
worlds of related services (print on demand, book demic librarians at Brave “New Media” World
SERVICES, paging, book buying, full text, etc.). As we find led me to think more about the “social world”
ourselves sailing through a digital ocean that is of the public library and not just the social me-
THE LIBRARY’S awash in new tools, the best rule of navigation is dia that libraries might use. I didn’t have to go
to serve our user communities as technology all the way to Long Island to know one thing:
evaluators—applying only the tools that are public libraries are being heavily used. My
CORE SERVICES most appropriate to a given situation. Such own area’s public library, the Albany branch of
critical evaluation helps us stay on course. Alameda Public Library, is proof enough—the
CAN ALSO I was reminded of this guiding strategy information gateway computers are in use all
when I gave a presentation at the Long Is- day long. Clearly, a lot is happening.
land Library Resources Council on Oct. 30, In the academic world, collections follow
GET A LIFT. 2009. The theme of the conference was Brave teaching and research. In contrast, the en-
“New Media” World. In the midst of all of the terprising public librarian frequently doubles
new information being presented there, I was as a local historian and expert on the region.
very impressed by many of the attendees’ The public library is an ideal site for doing
commitment to preserving the rich, local his- collaborative history-keeping; developing ex-
tory of the region. Public librarians were giv- pertise in history-keeping projects could open
ing a lot of thought to the challenge of mak- new opportunities to engage the community.
ing history com