Powered by Web 2. These exciting developments challenged the former attitudes of colleagues world wide. As archivists, we were heetogenbosch outside our comfort zones, or letting the general public step inside ours.
Currently we find ourselves at the next turning point: entering a stage in which our websites no longer merely offer convenient ways for researchers to prepare for their research at home, hertigenbosch they head for reading rooms. No, websites have become one platforms for the actual research itself, with less need for location visits.
The way users visit archives and do research at reading rooms or online has turned around between and With that said, we reached a point where we lost eye on the majority hertoenbosch users of archives, simply because these users have gradually been moving hertogenbosdh from visiting reading rooms, going online. And we have not moved with them, other than with database records and scan images.
All three aspects are missing in virtual reading rooms.
So in all efforts of digitizing everything, archivists are overlooking the one thing valued most by our users: themselves. The best services of archives have always been personal attention and support of users. They use personal attention for their digital customers as their unique selling point.
Since personal attention can not be automated, as archivists we need to find ways of providing personal support through virtual research environments. In other words: how can archives bring back the archivist behind an online reference desk?
Currently BHIC provides two of such services: chat and forum. Chat has been provided from onwards, service is from PM on weekdays in correspondence to the time frame during which our website is attracting most traffic.
In until mid September a total of 1. Amongst users, chat is one of the highest valued services provided by BHIC. It is amazing what a picture of a smiling archivist in the corner of the screen does to a website visitor.
Yet even more exciting is providing hettogenbosch on forums. Not the most advanced tool one can imagine, however many of the most active online communities use forums as their platform. Archivists act as moderators, monitor if questions get answers, keep in touch with active members, and jump on discussion thre where they can add value, for example because of their specific knowledge of collections or search strategies.
Its personal nature, human-to-human interaction, hertogenboxch made the forum one of the biggest traffic attractions of BHIC website. Where chat is a digital alternative for the traditional reference desk, forums add mutual research assistance… and a virtual coffee table too!
Of course, services like chat and forum have their share of influence on the work of reference archivists at BHIC. Instead of being a natural authority in answering reference questions, for example on a forum, an archivist is now just one of the many other community members.
Your answer may not be the first or last, and may certainly not be the best roooms this question. Although seemingly simple, forums provide powerful many-to-many reference tools, in which archivists and researchers collaborate.
BHIC archivists nowadays make use of the forum in a way they could not have imagined before, having become hertogenboscy in forwarding reference questions to the forum community, where its users are able to answer more questions, a lot faster. Their trust in the community, and loss of control over some of their work processes, left archivists with the benefit of spare time, now available for reference requests which require their specific knowledge and skills.
Most of all, each question gets the best, and fastest, personal attention possible, provided by either an archivist or another member of the online community. In the Netherlands an education and research project started in which students, teachers and archivists explore virtual research environments from different angles.