Libraries and the twitterverse p2: History does not tweet itself. The historians retweet one another

The (excessive) title of this post is a cunning reinterpretation of Max Beerbohm‘s quote “History does not repeat itself. The historians repeat one another” which leads us nicely into the subject of the day: Twitter and Archives; specifically the National Co-operative Archives in Manchester where at, this time last year, I had the pleasure of volunteering for a couple of months.

Now before you hurl a torrent abuse across cyberspace in my direction I know archives and libraries are different things but they essentially perform similar functions in that they store collections of information. Also I’ve recently been doing some work at said Co-operative Archives, which is the real reason I’m blogging about them!

The National Co-operative Archive holds books, periodicals, manuscripts, photographs and videos detailing the development of the worldwide Co-operative movement. They have recently started using Twitter so I was keen to get their view on its use and potential.

At the moment they tend to use Twitter to advertise events, new collections and jobs although they have been experimenting with more innovative Tweets such as ‘on this day’ and historical facts relating to the Co-operative Movement. Interestingly, when speaking to the people who update the Twitter feed, they aren’t entirely sure how to use Twitter. They are aware of the massive potential of it but not sure whether they should bombard their followers with random junk or Tweet more selectively. There is also the issue as to whether it should be an individual at the archives Tweeting to give it a personal touch or the organisation itself which would demand a more professonal approach. It’s a shame there isn’t a book called ‘How to Tweet for Archives’.

Perhaps some other archives can help them out. Manchester Archives Twitter page is a varied affair with Tweets about events, research projects, and even asking followers questions to help with research. Their most prolific and interesting Tweets come from their picture archives via Flickr with Manchester images from the 19th Century onwards.

The CBC Digital Archives holds historical material from the Canadian Broadcasting Company. It too is varied on its Twitter page with Tweets about important dates, and predominantly concerning the output of the archive itself. This is the advantage of having a digital archive: you are able to directly link materials to your followers through Twitter and is perhaps the most fundamental reason why the National Cooperative Archives aren’t totally convinced by Twitter.

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1 comment
  1. Supurb post, helped with my homework!! God bless for that.

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