Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Paper & Poster: Special Collections and Social Media: A Study of Two North Carolina Collections

At a poster session sponsored by Academic; Education; Museums, Arts, and Humanities; and Social Science Divisions of SLA, Katherine-Rose (Katie-Rose) Repp presented a poster based on her Master’s Paper in Information Science entitled "Special Collections and Social Media: A Study of Two North Carolina Collections" (60 pages). Abstract:
Special collections staff are duty-bound to promote their collections and ensure continued access. The challenge of the digital age is that many would-be patrons now assume that “everything is on the Internet,” and they do not pursue non-digital resources. Special collections staff can meet this challenge through the use of social media tools. This paper examines what tasks these tools can accomplish, and how they are used successfully by two specific collections. These collections’ usage of social media was evaluated through semi-structured interviews with staff, informed by analysis of their websites and use of commercial social media sites. This research finds that each collection used tools differently, and was most successful in promoting and providing access to their collections when they kept their audience's needs in mind. From this study, other special collections staff will learn how to successfully approach the use of these tools for their own collections.
For her paper, Repp interviewed staff involved in the Hugh Morton Collection at the University of North Carolina's Photographic Archive and the Duke Digital Collections at the Duke University Libraries, studied their websites in light of their usability, and examined how they are using social media tools.  These collections are reaching out to potential users with blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter and more. For example, in talking about Duke, she wrote:
The pre-populated “Share-This” bar includes the option to share individual items in the collections with others on the Connotea, Delicious, and Digg social bookmarking sites, as well as on Facebook. One can additionally save the item directly to one’s own Google Bookmarks account. Further options are available on the homepages of individual collections. (p. 16-17)
After exploring what these collections are doing, and the benefits of their efforts, Repp states:
...the primary lesson for other digital collections is no matter what they begin with, they must begin to experiment with social media.  (p. 42)
With over 100 endnotes, resources for further study, and an annotated list of other collections using social media tools, Katie-Rose Repp has written a paper to be proud of!

Repp's paper is not available on the Internet.  She reports that UNC will be making all of the Master's Papers available, but she is not sure when.  For now, if you are interested in reading it, please contact Katie-Rose Repp at katie {dot} rose {dot} repp {at} 

Addendum 11:30 a.m.:  Katie-Rose Repp reports that she has already heard from a number of people who are interested in her paper.  (She's thrilled!)  BTW I'm hoping she'll get a version of this paper published.

Repp also wanted everyone to have these two links:

Photos above were taken by Tara Murray (DIY Librarian) and were available in Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

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