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Dive In

June 12, 2018

Dive InDuring the summer of 2017, the last thing I wanted to do was start another social media channel. However, my director kept discussing Tumblr and it was obvious she thought the demographic (18-29 year olds) interested in Tumblr would be a good fit for our library. As a Gen-Xer, I had no personal experience with Tumblr. When I looked into it, I still didn’t really understand it (and maybe still don’t). To me it was a micro-blogging platform with a visual focus, but what was the point?

After some in-house discussion, we decided to give our archival student worker the freedom to share her opinions and thoughts about archival photos and objects. She dove into the project during the quiet summer months. Once completed, I reviewed each of her posts to correct and edit them for spelling and grammar. Additionally, I corrected any misinterpretations or historical inaccuracies. Our student did an amazing job finding items that were engaging. She crafted and scheduled out (via Tumblr’s queue feature) posts for the entire year. With the help from another staff member, she also took some great photos of some rarely seen objects.

To spread the word we followed other Tumblr accounts (194 in total) and used our other social media channels to cross promote our Tumblr posts. After a year we have 1051 followers and 430 notes/likes. So what is the point? For us, Tumblr expanded the college-age audience of our archival materials and showcased them in a way that was conversational, not authoritarian. With limited staff, our archives have no regular open hours. Tumblr offered a great way to showcase some of our more visual items to a wider audience.

Given the encouraging jist of the title of this post… “Dive In,” don’t be fooled.  I am currently dragging my feet on Snapchat. This morning I spoke with student workers who made a case for the social media channel and suggested uses, but with my limited experience I’m still apprehensive. Eventually, I will dive in, but right now I’m thinking about testing the waters.

Lebanon Valley College Archives on Tumblr

(Photo credit: Lebanon Valley College. “Women Swimming.” Student Affairs-Women’s Sports, F4.2, 2015.06.1337, Lebanon Valley College Archives Photograph Collection, 1954, Annville, PA).


One Comment leave one →
  1. smartin592 permalink
    June 14, 2018 3:52 pm

    I think using a visual focused social media platform is the perfect place to feature archival collections. We had a defunct Instagram account for our library which our archivist took over at the beginning of last year,, and it has been successful too. We got a LOT more college student followers than we have had on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
    I too am skeptical about implementing Snapchat. I think it becomes harder and harder to be successful on social media with more channels. Creating enough content to populate them becomes almost a full-time job and I know at my library we don’t have anyone who is dedicated full-time to social media.

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