SPEC Kit 317: Special Collections Engagement · 105
trick lies in how best to make our case in relation to other university units, and, of course, to do so persuasively and
The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music often makes its historical instruments available for public
performances in a variety of settings, and provides appropriate opportunities for music students to perform on these
This is a large and complicated institution experiencing and anticipating significant budget cuts. In such an environment,
enhancing engagement with varied groups via social networking, blogging, digital images, and enhanced Web presence
is as desirable as it is challenging.
We are only just beginning to use social networking tools, and we expect to do a lot more of this in the immediate
future. We are also building a better presence on the Web. We expect that due to severe budget cuts, our physical
exhibitions program will be curtailed or discontinued over the next two years. So the picture of what we are doing and
how will probably change fairly radically in a year’s time.
We created a film on YouTube utilizing photos from our most famous private collection, the Hamilton Family fonds.
We’ve created a YouTube channel for some of our short films from our collection. One of our staff has a blog. We have
a column highlighting our collections in our campus newspaper. We regularly do radio and television interviews about
our collections. We host peripheral events but add an archival twist, such as a “Day of Peace” with the East Indian
community where we pitched acquiring papers from them. In terms of student activities, we have tables with different
types of materials and ask students to go from table to table and answer questions.
We do a great number of outreach and instruction sessions with Chicago-area secondary school teachers, so that
they encourage primary resource research in their classroom, thereby affecting the culture of research for incoming
undergrads. Plus, we’re collaborating more closely with reference librarians to incorporate special collections instruction
in library instruction sessions. In all, we’re always trying new angles to engage faculty and students.
We have an outreach librarian with whom our department collaborates for announcing new exhibits, open houses, etc.
We have licensed photographs to Nebraska Educational Television for use in documentaries appeared on community
television or radio programs and have a regular column in the faculty/staff campus newsletter each week called “From
the archives.” This allows us to feature collections and university history. Scholarly Web sites like the Willa Cather
Archive have allowed us to create online reference works for use by scholars.
We welcome classes and visitors from other schools and universities from high school students to the general public.
While the concept of “embedded” service is understood here, our on-site service demands and staffing levels have
prevented growth in this direction.
While this survey focused on outreach related to Special Collections holdings I have also tried to make note of some
of our outreach activities related to our Archival Collections. These have included annual dinner fundraisers (“Water
Tables”: An Evening With the Experts) for our Water Resources Archive co-sponsorship of international conferences
highlighting materials in our University Archive (“From the Russian Steppes to the American Plains”: The Inaugural
Conference on German-Russian Studies) and traveling exhibits displayed at regional events (e.g., display of materials
from our Colorado Agricultural Archive at Denver’s Great Western Stock Show). We have also employed Web 2.0
strategies for outreach activities related to our University Historic Photograph Collection (University Archive). This
season we are hosting two faculty receptions honoring distinguished faculty who have recently donated papers to our
University Archive.
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