#Christmasinaalborg (#Juleniaalborg ) and Aalborg City Archives on Instagram
– because Christmas 2012 is History Now
Bente Jensen, archivist Aalborg City Archives
Christmas 2012 will soon be History. This was the slogan of Aalborg City Archives’* Christmas project last year using social media as: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The City Archives have celebrated Christmas through calendars with historical films and photos on Facebook, website and Flickr the last couple of years. This year, we added an accession of Christmas photos through social media: Why?
First because the City Archives lack modern Christmas photographs in the holding. We hold many photographs from the 1900ies but lack contemporary documentation of Christmas. At the same time Christmas is a good opportunity because everybody in Denmark connects something with the season.
Secondly because the archives wanted to test a new accession method and user involvement to use in future projects in 2013, # juleniaalborg is a preliminary project.
3rd because we wanted to test whether people wanted to join and if they did, who would?
4th because from a historical point of view it is interesting, which motives people associate with #Christmasinaalborg 2012
This is going to be a long blog post so we will reveal a part of the conclusion here. The archives received appx. 200 photos from 50 different “Instagramers”, from our point of view we obtained a fine press coverage and not at least the City Archives learned a lot about user involvement and social media. We would like to hear about the experiences from other institutions and hope that you can use our experience in your future work.
Why did we choose Instagram**? Aalborg City Archives has previously attempted to use the photo sharing application Flickr for photo accession among young people in a project ***, but it did not work. The target group found it too complicated. The smartphone is, however, close at hand, cameras on mobile phones get better and better, so we chose to use Instagram (IG). IG is an app that allows you to share pictures on the spot, a sort of Facebook for pictures with rapidly increasing number of users. It is possible to get an overview of pictures and comment on the compute/tablet through websites as Statigram.com and IG’s own web version of user profiles, but unfortunately only for “members” of IG. Aalborg City Archives already use IG (profile name aalborg_stadsarkiv) to communicate an informal picture of life in the archive, behind the scenes, in the storerooms, and in HistoryAalborg (reading room).
Other archives using IG are the National Archives (riksarkivet_Norway) in Norway, as well as many major museums outside Denmark, and recently the National Museum in Copenhagen. During the project IG was discussed in the media because of proposals for a changing copyright policy. It did not affect the project. Instagram is mentioned many times here, during the project period of time Flickr came up with a new interface for mobile media, which could be an option too.
What did Aalborg City Archives do? Via the archives’ newsletter, website, Facebook, Twitter, and the City Archives’ IG account we asked people to tag their images with #juleniaalborg (we had checked in advance that nobody else used the tag) from early December to December 27 – 3 photos would be chosen and win the archives’ Local History Calendar 2013 and we informed of the purpose of tagging.
IG holds already campaigns lasting a weekend eg, where anyone who wants it, tags by a common theme. To keep the focus on our campaign for a month, we urged people who tagged #aalborg with Christmas motives to use the tag #juleniaalborg, and the city archives promoted instagram photos on the Facebook page during December.
The local and regional press loved the project. In early December, the project was covered in the evening news on regional televion: TV2 Nordjylland have a look here: http://www.tv2nord.dk/arkiv/2012/12/10?video_id=38299&autoplay=1, and in the local newspaper.
The regional radio station: North Jutland Radio covered the results of the project http://www.dr.dk/P4/Nord/Programmer/morgen/Indslag_Gomorgen/20130102161847.htm
What did the archives obtain: 175 photos from 50 different photographers. The pictures are small, jpg, in a solution that means they never can be printed as a poster, but they can easily be used on the web. They give a good impression of #juleniaalborg 2012 (Christmas in Aalborg in 2012). Favorite motives are the local Christmas market at the cathedral, Christmas illumination of the streets, and the snow covered city and countryside.
We came into contact with a user group who normally do not associate anything with a City Archive. Many have later expressed that they were happy to participate in the project, and several have told us that they will participate in similar projects in the future. Seen from a demographic point of view, people between 20 and 40 years took part, most of them women.
The archives received 150 new “likes” on Facebook (890 to 1033), doubled the number of followers on Instagram (from 60-120) and increased the number on Twitter with 10% (now 330).
There is follow up work to do in a project like this: The selection of the most beautiful images: We had appointed a jury of an archivist, a librarian, and an urban planner. It was a difficult task, it was almost impossible to choose – so we ended up choosing 6 winners.
Documentation: the Instagramers were asked later about their “real” name and address (you do not use your real name on IG) and the participants should allow that the City Archives saved their photos and to use them in the archives’ outreach and databases. We have learnt from experiences of similar accession and outreach projects as “the Wall” in Copenhagen (Museum of Copenhagen), so we asked via IG and in subsequent mails. The vast majority responded and gave permission. Mails are a hurdle in a fast medium, but it has apparently not acted as a barrier.
Conclusion: Yes it is possible to ask people to join in a project like #juleninaalorg. We got a picture of # juleniaalborg as people experienced it in 2012, but the campaign also meant that others submitted digital photos from cameras of #juleniaalborg through mail. The City Archives got in contact with a group of people in Aalborg, who loves to take photos – we hope we can to return to them in future projects. And not least, we got a focus on the City Archives as a modern, communicating institution, which also has other services and offers among a group who has not previously known of the archives.
January 10, 2013
*information about Aalborg City Archives http://www.aalborgstadsarkiv.dk/AalborgStadsarkiv.asp?Menu=Forside&Menu2=Forside_AalborgCityArchives
** on Instagram: Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instagram
*** A project called Greenland in Aalborg, where Aalborg City Archives, the library in Aalborg and Aalborg Historical Museum asked young Greenlanders to take photos of what they found strange in Denmark / Aalborg and share the photos on Flickr.