Our First Alumna is on Twitter!
I hope you’ll forgive me for making my first post in months a bit of self-congratulation, but I’m just so excited about this project that I had to share.
This winter and spring, a student working in my library’s Digital Initiatives (DI) program is tweeting the daily diary of Margaret Boyd (@MaggieBoyd1873), the first alumna of Ohio University, who graduated in 1873. The diary was scanned and transcribed several years ago for the Ohio Memory project, so this was a great chance to take work that we had already done and use social media to share with a new audience.
While the diary itself is great, Janet Carleton, head of DI and her students realized that there is more to the story than Boyd’s diary entries, which tend to be short. So the student working in DI and a student I’m working with this year to develop social media content are researching topics from the diary and writing posts for our news blog to provide some context. The first two posts by students are about the similarities between Boyd and students today – she was nostalgic about her time at college but ready to graduate – and the classes she would have taken in 1873. I think this is my favorite quote from the diary – so far:
I can not help feeling sad to think this is my last year at college. Many a pleasant hour have I spent within its walls. Still I will be so glad to be able to make something. I have always had to be so careful of every cent.
From January 7, 1873. Who among us who’s been to college hasn’t experienced this feeling?
While the project is new, I think we’ve learned a few lessons already, but the biggest is about collaboration within the library. I’m fortunate to have a great working relationship with Janet, but collaboration for the students, who only work ten hours a week and have other work to do beyond the Boyd project, has been a challenge.
We’ve been using Google Docs to share posts and a web app called 5pm to keep track of materials, ideas and deadlines. I think that this will get easier as we go along, and I hope that the students are learning a skill that will serve them in their future careers.
We also have colleagues in the administration office who have helped us to get the word out on campus and beyond. A story about the project is on the front page of our university’s communications page today thanks to their work. Without a strong collaborative relationship with colleagues throughout the library, I don’t think the project would have received the level of attention that it has already. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here!