2020 was the year that life moved online. Archive buildings were closed for months and archivists had to adapt to working from home. However, archives could still reach their users online and social media became a vital channel for communication and outreach.
Social media is a simple but effective way to increase the accessibility of archival collections as it can improve public awareness of an archive’s services and has the potential to reach a huge number of users. One way to engage with people on social media is through archive hashtag campaigns. These outreach activities seek to raise awareness of the value of archives and encourage archive services to highlight their collections online. Most archive social media campaigns are Twitter-based, but the hashtags can also be used on other platforms (such as Facebook and Instagram).
If you’re interested in getting more involved with social media, keep reading to find out about hashtag campaigns for archives in Ireland and gain some inspiration from other archives’ social media posts! You can keep up to date on campaigns in Ireland by checking out the Archives and Records Association, Ireland website www.araireland.ie
Explore Your Archive is an outreach campaign by the Archives and Records Association (ARA) that showcases archival collections across the UK and Ireland. The Explore Your Archive website offers a basic introduction to archives and provides resources to help archivists reach new users. Explore Your Archive is, however, best known for its social media presence.
Every month, Explore Your Archive has a different “theme” for social media. Archives are encouraged to share content relevant to the theme, such as material from their collections, insights into archive life or blog posts. A couple of examples for the July “travel” theme this year are these tweets from the National Archives of Ireland and NUI Galway Archives.
#ExploreYourArchive Themes for 2020
Linked to the monthly themes is #ExploreYourArchive Day. This takes place on the 10th of each month and acts as a focus for the monthly themes. If you only have time to use social media once throughout the month, post content on #ExploreYourArchive Day! The campaign will share your content more widely and help to increase your archive’s visibility.
Every year, Explore Your Archive holds a “launch week” for the campaign. This year’s launch is taking place from Saturday 21st to Sunday 29th November. There are daily themes throughout the week, so it’s a great time to get involved and share content inspired by these themes.
Away from social media, the Explore Your Archive launch week is also an opportunity for archives to hold special events connected with the campaign. ARA Ireland traditionally holds a launch event, which this year took place virtually!
This online event was held on Thursday 19th November and
included the news that ARA Ireland’s ambassador for Explore Your Archive 2020 is none other than author, academic and broadcaster, Emma Dabiri. An online quiz with questions centered around the themes of launch week was also a popular new addition. (For more information, check ARA Ireland’s Twitter – @ARAIreland).
#ExploreYourArchive Launch Week Themes for 2020
Even if you can’t get involved with the Explore Your Archive hashtag campaigns, you can still use the #ExploreYourArchive hashtag on any archive-related tweets and they will be shared more widely, like these tweets from the Special Collections and Archives at the University of Limerick and Maynooth University. Your archive may not have its own social media accounts, but you can still get involved through your parent organisation – just like Galway County Council Archives.
Finally, for up-to-date information on the Explore Your Archive campaign, follow @explorearchives on Twitter and keep an eye on the social media page of the Explore Your Archive website and on www.araireland.ie for Irish events.
This year, ARA Scotland are hosting an #ArchiveZ campaign. During each week of the 26-week campaign, archive services are encouraged to post material from their collections connected with the letters of the alphabet.
Here are a few #ArchiveZ tweets from archives in Ireland:
- C is for “Cashel Diocesan Library” (from the University of Limerick Special Collections and Archives)
- C is also for “Currach” (from NUI Galway Archives)
- L is for “Landed Estates Court Rentals” (from the National Archives of Ireland)
- Q is for “Quays” (from NUI Galway Archives)
The National Archives of Ireland has also been participating in the #ArchiveZ campaign on Instagram.
ARA Scotland first ran this campaign a couple of years ago and it was so popular that they chose to run it again this year! So, if you’ve missed out on the 2020 edition, keep an eye out for a possible return of #ArchiveZ in the future.
The annual #Archive30 campaign is another ARA Scotland outreach initiative. It takes place in April each year and provides daily topics for people to tweet about. The 2019 campaign had 800 participants and reached over 3 million people across the world!
#Archive30 Themes for April 2020
Here are some #Archive30 tweets from Irish archives earlier this year:
- Day 1: Your Archive (from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Archive)
- Day 15: Sport (from the National Library of Ireland)
- Day 21: Misconceptions (from Trinity College Dublin Manuscripts & Archives)
- Day 28: Archive Inclusion (from the National Archives of Ireland)
Hashtags are a great way to see who else is sharing content online around a particular topic. One popular hashtag for local authority archives in Ireland is #lovelocalarchives. Searching for this hashtag gives a glimpse into the vast amounts of material held by these archive services.
Take a look at these posts for some inspiration:
- A school photograph from Donegal County Archives
- Workhouse minutes from Galway County Council Archives
- A shop photograph as a jigsaw puzzle from Louth County Archives Service
Social media is a fantastic way to get connected with other archives and archive users! So why not get involved in some of these archive hashtag campaigns? Check out www.araireland.ie for news of campaigns or further inspiration.
Sarah Moses, Archivist, Irish Archives Resource
Julie Devenney, “Scottish Archives Day: a day to remember,” ARC Magazine 369 (April/May 2020): 14-15.