Social media platforms like Tumblr offer a quick, easy, and popular way for archives to conduct outreach and engage users with collections without requiring technical expertise like computer programming and web design. However, as the University of Idaho Library, Special Collections and Archives Department discovered after years of using Tumblr for online outreach, there are significant disadvantages to using a third-party social media platform. Unable to control the discoverability, display, and preservation of blog posts, it became clear that Tumblr was no longer serving the department’s evolving needs, necessitating an alternative solution moving forward. Special Collections & Archives partnered with the library’s Data and Digital Services Department to develop a custom self-hosted platform for sharing archival collections and staff institutional knowledge. This platform, the Idaho Harvester, combines the useful functions of a blog with those of a digital collection to ensure the digitization and research conducted for outreach is easily discoverable and effectively preserved. This article describes the disadvantages of a third-party social media platform for archival outreach and the benefits of a self-hosted platform like the Idaho Harvester to demonstrate the need for a multi-platform approach to online archival outreach. Although working with a self-hosted platform like the Idaho Harvester requires more technical skills than working with a social media platform like Tumblr, we argue that it meets the goals of discoverability, display, and preservation better than Tumblr or other social media platforms. As archival work becomes increasingly digital, this case study serves as an example of how archival outreach demands have evolved over time and how to assess online outreach tools and develop a multi-platform approach that works for archives’ unique and evolving needs.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.



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