This week we have discussed “catablogs” and what we like about this Web 2.0 feature that some archives and special collections use to describe their collections and prime them for online discovery. Their structure is a landing page with a post for each collection description behind it, and these posts can be searched using a search box, tags, and categories. Some incorporate RSS subscription feeds. If I were a genealogist or other archives and special collections researcher who trolls the Internet every day for new material or resources, I would find this useful because new posts will get sent to me instead.
What inspired us was a recording of a May 10 presentation at the Metropolitan New York Library Council about how the Brooklyn Historical Society created a catablog using WordPress blogging software because it was a simple and inexpensive solution to repackaging collection descriptions and legacy finding aids for the Internet. It was a transition project that recruited interns and volunteers for help and eventually gained grant funding for further development. Because of how accessible their catablog is for people online used to looking at blogs and other post-Web 2.0 interfaces – and for staff learning to manage it – catablogging is a fine model for archival practice. Reference inquiries at Brooklyn Historical Society spiked in numbers as well as overall interest in and usage of the historical society’s collections. That’s what marks success in the archival industry and I love these happy endings even more when a simple and inexpensive solution prevailed.
The Archives 2.0 wiki has a page about catablogs with links to some. UMarmot at University of Massachusetts – Amherst is another well-known successful catablog.