I had the opportunity this week to attend the annual conference of the Society of North Carolina Archivists.  Sarah Koonts, the Director of the North Carolina Division of Archives and Records, delivered the keynote address.  She entitled her presentation “Collections That Build Connections,” and she provided a nice succinct overview of trends, tactics, and technologies for archives.  I was interested to hear that the State Archives of North Carolina is reaching the same number of patrons that it was twenty years ago.  Obviously with the increasing availability of resources online, many more of those patrons traveled to the archives twenty years than do today.  While it’s certainly heartening to see that the usefulness of archives has not declined, I could also hope that archives could gain ground with the introduction of new access mechanisms rather than just standing their ground.  Along those lines, Koonts had some interesting suggestions for outreach that could increase the exposure of archives:

  • crowdsourcing (e.g., NARA’s Citizen Archivist Dashboard)
  • offering to be a speaker for local Rotary groups or cultural groups
  • partnering with a state historic site for an exhibit
  • connecting archival resources to National History Day themes as a way to target high school teachers and students

Maybe with this sort of thinking and leadership, archives can keep re-envisioning themselves and find ways to increase the numbers of patrons.