For those of you who don’t spend much time in the library, I want to start by recapping what the Rubenstein Library is and what exactly we’re renovating. The Rubenstein is where we keep the “crown jewels” of the library. Rare books, manuscripts, special collections.
But it also refers to this whole area in red. Perkins, Bostock, and Rubenstein form one big library complex. Just think: PBR. I’m sure this group can remember that acronym.
Back in the day, this was the original library on West Campus. It was built in 1929, and added onto in ‘49 and ‘69.It includes the Gothic Reading Room, Rare Book Room, exhibit galleries, offices, meeting rooms. All that is part of the renovation, which goes through summer 2015.
With a project as big as this, we needed a way to keep people informed about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how it might affect them.And we needed to make that info available through a variety of channels.
This is our main channel. It’s basically a WordPress blog. But it’s also a one-stop-shop of info about the renovation. Here we have images, FAQs, floorplans.This is linked all over our website, and we promote the URL in all of our publications, and even on our fence.
The website also helps with internal communication. The Libraries employ about 250 people and another 250 student workers. Not all of them know what’s happening behind that fence.Our public-facing staff direct people to the website for accurate information about the project.
Because this is a blog, we can also post news here. We post construction updates every 2-3 weeks. And we always include photos, because people like seeing progress. It also lends an air of transparency to what we’re doing.
By using tags and categories, we can also aggregate posts from our other library blogs. If it’s tagged “renovation,” it shows up automatically on the renovation site, too. That way, we can capture all renovation-related stories we’re putting out there.
So what do we blog about?It’s not all construction updates. We might write about moving and storing all those portraits of Duke presidents in the Gothic Reading Room.Or what happens when the construction crew breaks a pipe and water starts leaking into our basement. All kinds of fun stuff!
These posts get featured on our main library news blog and our library homepage. (Which we recently redesigned, by the way, in case you haven’t seen it.) I always use images that are 600 x 360 pixels, in case DukeToday wants to pick something up and feature it.
Speaking of images…People like to know what’s going on, but more than that they like to SEE it.So it’s important to have good photos. And for the last year or so, we’ve been photographing a lot of the work going on behind the scenes.
Because we’re renovating an existing building, it’s almost all behind the scenes. This is what you can’t see from the quad. There used to be seven floors of stacks here, with enough books and manuscripts to reach the top of Duke Chapel 155 times. Now it’s a big hole.
We’re fortunate to have a great photographer on staff. Mark Zupan is our graphic designer. About twice a semester, he and I walk around the site and take lots of photos. The guys on the construction crew also send us photos.
We upload these to a dedicated set on our Flickr site. For every image we put here, there are about 20 more that we don’t. We’re curating this. We want lots of documentation about the renovation, but we don’t want to overwhelm people.
By the way, all of the images on our Flickr site are under a Creative Commons license. If you ever need a good Duke library shot, even if it’s not related to the renovation, you can grab one in high-resolution right here. We add new ones all the time. Help yourself.
We also try to have fun. This is a little essay in our library magazine on the stone shields on the library façade.The men who carved these left no record of what they are supposed to symbolize.But this is a library, so we did some research and came up with a story about what we think they represent.
We also repurpose these images on Facebook, Twitter, and especially Instagram.We’ve been using Instagram since 2012, and we love it. It’s a great way to show what’s happening across the Libraries, and it’s especially good for reaching undergraduates.
We always tag images with #pictureduke, in case Cara or Amanda want to pick them up and repost them on the main Duke Instagram account.Every time they repost something of ours, we get about 10 new followers.And we cross-promote Instagram on our blog, and vice versa.
So what’s more fun than a major library renovation? How about two at the same time!This summer, we’re going to start renovating the first floor of Bostock Library.It’s going to take about a year, and I’m sure we’ll have lots of info and images to share about that. So stay tuned.
So that’s what we’re doing to document and inform people about our renovation, and thanks to these people who make it all possible.
Ignite presentation welborn 012414
Using Social Media
to Promote and Document the
Rubenstein Library Renovation
Aaron Welborn, Duke Libraries
Duke Communicators Meeting
January 24, 2014
• Mark Zupan
• Michael Daul
• Tom Crichlow
• Beth Doyle
• Gwen Hawkes
• Wes Weaver
• Ashley Jackson
• Cara Rousseau and Amanda Peralta
• Geoffrey Mock
• Thanks to all y’all, too!