Session Idea: Lowering Barriers to Sharing DH Content

I’m familiar with lots of small historical societies–volunteer-run, mostly–who have photographs and historical documents they would like to share but are not sure how. Some scan the photos and put them on their own websites and some add them to Facebook, but their methods often don’t produce high-quality visual representations, have poor metadata, and don’t disseminate the content effectively. This is probably similarly the case for other sorts of non-profit, non-professional humanities groups or arts organizations.

How can the professional community help these small, non-professional groups? Can we help train them in the use of available tools, like Omeka or PastPerfect’s exhibit plug-in? Is it possible to effectively utilize social media like Facebook and Pinterest? When discussing the proposed Delaware Valley Digital Humanities Center, can we afford to provide services to the little guys?  Could the DV DH Center look something like the Maine Memory Network or North Carolina’s DigitalNC? Could we have a Philly-based scannebago?

2 thoughts on “Session Idea: Lowering Barriers to Sharing DH Content

  1. I love the idea of this session and it is something that we are just starting to experiment with at F&M College and in Lancaster, PA. I think it is possible for larger organizations, such as an academic organization or a larger regional organization to partner with and mentor smaller organizations by focusing on their common collections and their common history. We are finding that we, as a larger organization can learn a lot in regard to content, local history and memory from the smaller community rooted organizations. Also, today’s DH funding bodies such as the IMLS and the NEH are very interested in funding multi-partner, broad community impact projects.

    eHive is also a great low-cost, low-barrier platform that allows individual organization collections to be linked together as a “community.” We are in the process of switching over to this platform in hopes of connecting our collections to other organizations. We are also developing a HistoryPin ( pilot project for our community, recognizing that HistoryPin provide easy entry for some of the smaller, low-tech groups such as the neighborhood volunteer group that maintains a historic cemetery in Lancaster.

    NZMusuems ( is another great project that runs on the eHive platform.

  2. Should have read all the posts a bit more carefully before I posted my session idea. The idea that I just posted fits with discussions I have had with people at the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, who have some of the same concerns you voice here. There is, I think, a two-pronged education process required: how can small volunteer-run sites discover what good-practice (if not best-practice) is, so that labor and resources are not wasted and how can they begin to imagine doing something more than just “posting what they have.”

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