Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Review - Building Communities - Looking Ahead

Helping kids understand that history has a role to play in
their lives is an important goal of ArchivesInfo in 2012.
Libraries, Archives and Museums have an important role to play in keeping cultural heritage alive through documentation, access, and outreach. But institutions cannot act separately from the communities that they serve. We need to consider our "audience" more as active partners in the work we do.  During 2011, I have worked to develop projects that emphasize the importance of communities and community building for the study of history and the protection of historical resources. The following ArchivesInfo projects have been launched in 2011 with these thoughts in mind. I look forward to sharing ideas, continuing to build community identities, and  working to promote cultural heritage with you all! I hope that you will join me on my 2012 journey. Visit my web site. Find me here, on Twitter, or on Facebook. Or better yet, I hope we may get a chance to build a sense of community together, in person.

Happy New Year!

1. The Diary Project - "On this blog on May 6th, I introduced a diary I found in a local antique shop. The diary covers a six month period in 1882 and includes the names of many people, places, and events in Southern Maine [probably Kennebunkport, based on research we've done thus far.] My elementary school aged daughter and I are working on a project to uncover the name of the person who wrote the diary and to find out more about this person's life." Our diary provides a window into the past that we think can help the community it reflects build a stronger sense of identity. Stay tuned for our diary project blog!

2. What I Know. What I Wonder. What I Imagine. - An introduction to the program states: "This program introduces historical thinking to elementary school students. The photos in this program include children from the past doing all kinds of different things. They are children like you, but most of them lived a long time ago. I don’t know the kids’ names, where they lived, if they were happy, or their ages. I want to know because these children are part of my heritage. They tell me something about kids in the past. They tell me something about history and culture. They show me that civilization has come a long way and yet, I have a connection to people who lived long ago. They are not so very different from me!" With the goal of "Teaching Kids the Value of History" this workshop allows students to identify facts about images; encourages them to ask appropriate questions based on those facts and what we don't know; and allows kids to use their creativity to imagine what life was like for the children pictured. I will begin introducing the program to local schools in 2012.

3. Life in Context - "Your story helps define the 21st century for future generations. The narrative of your life should describe your personal journey and can be viewed as a piece of a larger puzzle reflecting values, traditions and trends in society. Colleague and certified professional organizer Sue West and I have developed the workshop Life in Context: Telling Your Story to help people think about their places in the world. Through an exploration of personal objects, individuals can define what aspects of their lives are most meaningful to them.  Sue and I encourage people to pursue a greater understanding of the context of their lives to help them focus on what is meaningful, and to collect and preserve stories that are essential to better understanding ourselves, our communities and our culture." Learn more at our web site and join the Life in Context Project on Facebook.

4. Unofficial Family Archivist - "This new book advocates for the value, recording and care of your family memories. Are you passing on a well-rounded collection of personal papers, photographs and memorabilia or are you passing on bits that leave more questions than answers?" An outgrowth of the ArchivesInfo "Preserving Memories" workshop, The Unofficial Family Archivist helps individuals recognize the value of their personal historical materials and family papers for communities. I continue to arrange book signings and workshops in 2012 with the re-release of the book in early January.

5. Social Media, Digitization and DPLA - At the end of 2011 I joined the DPLA Content and Scope workstream to add my voice to help with the creation of a national digital library. I encourage all cultural heritage professionals to join DPLA to offer your expertise to making this important project successful. ArchivesInfo will continue activity across social media platforms and work to help small cultural heritage institutions to better understand and gain a foothold in the digital world. I am especially proud of the connections I've made to non-professionals interested in learning about archives and cultural heritage institutions. In 2011 I've also made many connections to genealogists, oral historians, and others in related fields -- some of whom I've begun working collaboratively to promote our mutual interests. I have included guest bloggers to expand their reach and to add their voice to mine to promote our field. 2012 will bring more guests to this space.

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