Today the American Library Association conference in Anaheim ends, marking the end of a Southern California summer for the non-local travelers to ALA and the smaller group (approximately 400 people) who attended the preceding Rare Books and Manuscripts Section conference 100 miles south of Anaheim in San Diego.
At RBMS June 19-22 at the Westin hotel in downtown San Diego, I learned how much ArchiveGrid in the last year has emerged as a more widely-known service for primary source research. When we exhibited ArchiveGrid for the first time last year at the Society of American Archivists conference in Chicago, most people, simply put, didn’t know what it was.
Fast forward to a week ago today, when we demonstrated ArchiveGrid at the RBMS technology petting zoo. Enthusiastic conversations about ArchiveGrid replaced last year’s quizzical glances toward our demo at SAA. Most visitors this time to our booth knew, first of all, what ArchiveGrid was and they showed interest in learning more about it. People wanted to know whether their institutions were represented in our system and how they can get included if not. We heard suggestions and resolved questions and issues people had regarding the appearance of their records in ArchiveGrid. Opportunities came up for us to acquire new contributors and we encouraged people to use our system to train others in primary source research.
One reason ArchiveGrid was successful at RBMS is we have more to say about it. Its first anniversary as a free service coincided with a surge from 1 million collection descriptions in our index in February to 1.7 million as of this month. We have learned to be forthright about our intention to improve the service while keeping it in the OCLC family by identifying archival materials in WorldCat and putting those MARC records in our index. Our research of archives and special collections users and how we will use those findings to improve ArchiveGrid makes it the test kitchen of discovery interface development and design.
A second reason why people knew about ArchiveGrid and wanted to learn more about it is how we marketed it through social media, email, and online groups. Amid the RBMS Twitter coverage, riveting plenaries, and session discussions and coffee break chats, we made sure ArchiveGrid came up in conversation. Events and activities associated with ArchiveGrid reach people through Twitter, online groups, and when people congregate in person.
Be sure to visit the ArchiveGrid demo booth at this year’s SAA conference in August in San Diego, for those who didn’t get enough of SoCal the first time. Or look in Twitter for the ArchiveGrid hashtag (#archivegrid) and use it when you Tweet about us. Learn about how linked data, name recognition, and more are in store for our role in archives and special collections discovery.