Deseronto• Population: 1,900• First settled by Mohawks in 1784• Became a major timber-processing centre in late 19th century• Site of Royal Flying Corps pilot training airfields in WWI
Deseronto Public Library• Began life as the Deseronto Mechanics’ Institute in 1885• Became Public Library in 1896• Has been collecting/keeping records, photographs etc. for many years
1896 Library Rules8. No one shall be permitted to take books from the shelves except the Librarian and assistant and members of the Board of Management.9. Noise, audible conversation, or disorderly conduct in the Library and Reading Room is strictly prohibited.
Problems with first librarian…• Arthur P. Brown, librarian 1891-1915“The question of refusal on part of the Librarian to issue certain books to various individualswas raised by the Secretary who took the ground that we should not have books in theLibrary at all about which there was any reasonable doubt. Several books were namedamong which were the following:-The Lady of Quality [A Lady of Quality by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1896]Maggie [by Stephen Crane, 1893]Tess of Duberville [Tess of the dUrbervilles by Thomas Hardy, 1891]On the Sunny Shore [by Henryk Sienkiewicz, 1897]It was moved by Mr. Costigan, seconded by Mr. Copland that we expunge these booksentirely.The Librarian was instructed that outside of these books he was hereafter to refuse noperson provided the books desired were in the Library.”Deseronto Public Library Board Minutes, December 13, 1898
Deseronto Archives• Formally established by 1997 by-law• Total annual budget: $11,000• Occupies a corner of the Library• Part-time archivist
IT situation in 2007• Town website (no access for updating by archives staff)• Limited IT support• Archives’ PC attached to Deseronto Public Library’s network & Internet – Network drive, backed up• No email account for Archives
• Collection rich in images• Archives poor in resources• Completely lacking any sort of online presence
Solution• Use free (or nearly-free) online tools to: – act as the Archives’ public face – share images and news about the materials in the collection• Use those tools to promote the work of the Archives and raise funds for further development of programs
Initial online steps for Deseronto Archives• Sep 2007:Gmail & Google Calendar account for Archives• Oct 2007: Blog set up $47.99• Jan 2008: Flickr account opened• Jul 2008: Moved to ‘Pro’ Flickr account• Jan 2009: Began using Twitter
Funding for digitization• 2009: Town of Deseronto contributed $4,000 for a digitization project• Allowed for rapid addition of new content to Flickr
Outreach not just online…• Articles in bi-monthly town newsletter, delivered to every home• Annual Heritage Day/Family Day competition in conjunction with Deseronto Public School• Attendance at Town events
Pushing the boundaries• …going beyond ‘us’ telling ‘them’• Seeking content from users that we couldn’t meet locally
User-generated content?• Grant of $16,000 from Ontario’s Museums and Technology Fund, 2010, with funding of $4,000 from the Town of Deseronto• Used to build and generate content for a new website: ‘About Deseronto’: http://aboutdeseronto.omeka.net/
Absence…Physicaldistancefrom hometown Feelings of affection for home townwith apologies to Jessica Hagy of ‘Indexed’ http://thisisindexed.com
Low-cost, sustainable approach Just launching a beta version of their hosted service in April 2010
Disadvantages• Initially, Omeka.net did not offer an option for users to upload materials direct – Which had been the whole point of ‘About Deseronto’• Hard to get people to engage – Very small population, which doesn’t help!
New direction• Oral histories – Archives Board members helped to identify potential interviewees – 10 interviews conducted during the course of the project – Big learning curve – technology, technique
Financial impact• $4,000 in 2009 for digitisation from Town of Deseronto• $20,000 received in 2010 for ‘About Deseronto’ Omeka site – 75% from Ontario Ministry of Culture – 25% from Town of Deseronto
Facebook• An unexpected success (150 ‘friends’ to date) – More connections with local people than through Twitter – More help with identifying people/places/things – Many more user-contributed photos, comments – Lesson learnt: go to where your audience is!
Support for our work• Social media audiences can be called upon in times of need – A lot of support on Facebook for the archives in the light of cuts to the National Archival Development Program in recent weeks
Things to consider• Security/portability of images and metadata from external web services – Have backup copies• Possibility of vandalism/inappropriate content – Vigilance important (incidence negligible so far)
In summary• Disadvantages heavily outweighed by advantages• Try different things, see what works for your particular context• See what other people are doing and shamelessly steal and copy ideas• Make your service as noticeable and available as possible• You DON‘T need a big budget, a huge amount of time or a lot of IT support to have – a respectable online presence – a significant impact on the world outside your walls
Final glimpses, final thought You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result. Mahatma Gandhi HMR1-09-41 "C.P.R. Station. Wpg.“HMR1-09-40 "Wpg Armories 1884. Harry in Motor“ 1907