For the first in-person event since 2020, we heard about ‘Treasures of the National Library of Scotland’ from Stewart Hardy (Marketing Officer), Beth Cochrane (Events & Learning Coordinator) and Alice Heywood (Digital Learning Officer) at the National Library of Scotland.
This new permanent exhibition provides a unique insight into Scotland’s history, culture and people and its place in the world. It features objects from early printed books to video installations, and from maps and medieval manuscripts to passports and letters.
Stewart began by discussing the process of inviting content creators to the Library for the exhibition. When it comes to sourcing creators, Stewart spoke highly of VisitScotland, digital conferences like the MuseumNext Digital Summits, and asking colleagues and peers. He also urged us to let the creators explore the site/event in their own voice and give them as much editorial control as possible.
In terms of what he’d do differently next time, Stewart would have loved to have had more creators producing content on more platforms, such as TikTok and YouTube. He also noted that even though you may have invited a creator to see one event or exhibition, there’s a good chance that they’ll want to explore the rest of the site and learn more about your organisation. Consider offering behind-the-scenes tours and using the opportunity to promote other offers such as membership.
Stewart also touched on the Library’s Treasures podcast and recommended creating teaser trailers to help promote the episodes on social media. He also suggested adding the podcast to all platforms (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, etc.) and keeping the language as clear and accessible as possible. He also reminded us that the public might not know who your guests are (even if they’re celebrities), so make sure you do an introduction. It also helps if you can get your guests to promote the podcast which will help you break out of your echo chamber and reach new audiences.
Beth and Alice then talked about reaching new audiences and enhancing the gallery experience.
Beth covered the process of commissioning the creative works, many of which were then translated to social media. The team had worked with Neu! Reekie!, a prize-winning literary collective, to invite artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers to create new work inspired by Library treasures.
Beth emphasised that these kinds of commissions can be used to make sites/events/collections relevant to both online and offline audience. She also discussed how their audience was reacting to in-person vs online events using their Library Late event as an example.
Alice then chatted about the Smartify app which was designed to enhance the Treasures gallery experience through a multi-layered guide to the items on display. She noted that it’s quicker to add information and images and you don’t need any IT skills to use it.
Alice explained that different types of approaches can result in a broader audience and that this format allows them to present material in an engaging way, which is often better for younger audiences (for example, by allowing users to zoom in on intricate pages). She also highlighted the importance of being willing to experiment with new platforms, approaches, etc even if the results are hard to measure.
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