Online History-Keeping for Outreach and Community Development

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					»   building
    digital libraries
                                                                                    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
                                                                              Community Creativity
         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
Description: The public library is an ideal site for doing collaborative history-keeping; developing expertise in history-keeping projects could open new opportunities to engage the community. [...] local historical societies often focus on collecting and chronicling history, but they may not pay quite as much attention to access issues. In today's world of mashups and cloud applications, it isn't really necessary to choose among social domains, content management systems, and proprietary software - you can use all of these tools together to achieve your goal. Because of this, it's an exciting time for collection boosters.
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