Taming Social Media in the Natural History Museum Library and Archives
Hellen Sharman, Reader Services Librarian, Library & Archives, Natural History Museum [NHM] attended the LMG Museums and Social Media event in May and would like to share a little insight into how a Librarian uses social media in a large museum.
Question 1: How did the Library and Archives blog develop?
Incredibly our Library & Archives blog has been up and running for 3 years, during which time we have learnt a lot. Initially we asked ourselves what did we already produce that could be posted up and then what new material could we create monthly. Better to start off consistent, than post large amounts that couldn’t be sustained!
Then we began to look for a ‘behind the scenes’ category to give insight into the work of staff, volunteers and visitors using our collections, something that is very difficult to get across to those visiting the Museum each day.
Question 2: Why did you start a Twitter presence?
Our blog is part of the Museum’s NaturePlus section of the website and as a result can feel a little hidden, so when we joined the Twittersphere (@nhm_library), it gave us the opportunity to promote ourselves directly to those interested in our collections. We have learnt that social media gives us the freedom to bypass the constraints of a formal website.
Question 3: As a Librarian how does social media fit into your everyday job?
My role is to encourage colleagues to take part in the blog and I have learnt that you need an advocate who infects others with their enthusiasm, but also offers practical help, support and posts articles on the behalf of others, therefore side stepping any technology phobias that can prevent individuals taking put.
I have recently started a series called ’60 second staff encounters’ and the more light hearted ‘Desert Island Naturalist’, which aim to allow people to learn a little about the types of individuals who work in the NHM Library and Archives. Some are happier than others to contribute, which is natural, but if you have variety in the type of material that you post up, the more likely you are to get all of your colleagues involved in some degree.
Question 4: Where do you get your ideas?
My job gives me the perfect opportunity to come up with ideas for material, I work in the hub of the Library, meetings staff and visitors all day long. It always pays to be nosey and ask questions. I also have the habit of coming across things by accident and love all things serendipity, this all helps greatly!
Question 5: Any final insights or thoughts you’d like to share?
I have been lucky enough to work in two national museum libraries and it is always a pleasure to help break down the stereotype that people associate with the image of the ‘Librarian’ and open people’s eyes to our all too often hidden world. Even better if we can have fun doing it!
News shot by: Hellen Sharman | Reader Services Librarian | Library & Archives | Natural History Museum
If you’d like to contact Hellen to talk about social media ideas please do via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @ohreallyhells