Social Media in the Archives

Just a quick thought as I’m working on a project and paper that considers the state of ethnographic sound archives. (I’m specifically interested in research use of sound materials.) But I’ve noticed that many of the archives I’ve looked into don’t have much of an online social media presence. Some have good online catalogs, but only a have embraced social media. Recently, the Archivist of the U.S. wrote about how NARA is embracing social media sites and opportunities as “mission-critical” activities. The goal is to expand the audience of the archives and pluralize the stories that people tell from the materials:

Today, it is no longer about a single voice disseminating information from the Archives. Our customers want deeper access to our staff and to hear the entire chorus of our voices. Our citizen archivists and engaged customers eagerly await more ways to participate and add their voices to the chorus. Together we can provide greater access to the records, and a deeper understanding of those records. Together we’ll amplify each other’s messages. (More)

Some recent sound archiving activities have made headlines, like the Lomax tapes on the Colbert Report, and some have very engaging sites that allow people to explore and discover archival materials, but it’s not particularly common.

Change seems to be coming, though. This continues the growing interest in social media, for example see my “Social Lives of Archives.” Interesting times.


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