Social Network Technology for Preservation Outreach and Education

Duke University Libraries’ preservation and conservation program is among the first of its kind to use social networking technologies for outreach and education in preservation. Under the leadership of conservator Beth Doyle, and with help from Preservation staff members, this program has built a Web presence using Flickr, Twitter and Facebook. They are also highlighted regularly in the library’s digital collections blog (and the library webpages) to share information about the work of their department and preservation in general.

Topics include digital project tips, ideas for boxes and other preservation strategies, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the libraries’ collections and conservation program. Although current wisdom says social network technology is a great way to reach young people, their Facebook statistics show 66 percent of their fans are aged 35-54. Library staff from outside preservation say these sites let them understand for the first time what preservation and conservation are about! In addition, more students arrive at the libraries’ Web pages from their social networks than from the home pages.

Tips and Ideas

If you’d like technology help, look for a tech savvy library school student in your region, or a high school student who might be available for a field experience or internship.

Recognize that it’s hard to control public contributions to your site. Be prepared to delete inappropriate material, and make your policies about that clear.

Post to social networking pages at least two or three times a week to keep interest high—this will take only a little time (although it can be seductive, so you’ll need discipline).

Invite your community to provide images and information about their collections and their preservation successes.


Beth Doyle, Collections Conservator, Duke University Libraries, Durham, NC; (919) 660-5985