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Working with Patrons Presentation Society of Indiana Archivists Fall Workshop Alison Stankrauff October 7, 2011. Understanding Your Patrons Means Understanding Your Institution, Its Constituent Bodies/Customers. . Connect to the mission of your institution .

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Working with Patrons Presentation Society of Indiana Archivists Fall WorkshopAlison StankrauffOctober 7, 2011

understanding your patrons means understanding your institution its constituent bodies customers
Understanding Your Patrons Means Understanding Your Institution, Its Constituent Bodies/Customers.
  • Connect to the mission of your institution.
  • Meet with and get familiar with the ‘head honchos’ of your institution – your administrators, directors, deans, etc.
  • Get familiar and friendly with your customers – all your customers. If you have frequent patrons, consider meeting them outside the archives for coffee, etc.
understanding your surrounding community
Understanding Your Surrounding Community.
  • This means understanding how your institution fits into the community. - And if it does not mesh, that’s an opportunity to find ways to reach out to the community at large and let them know about the archives!
  • Connect the mission of your institution with the mission of the archives – and just how these might be important to – and of interest to – the community.
  • This is, again, a potential outreach opportunity.
understanding your virtual community
Understanding Your Virtual Community.
  • How do people reach you virtually?
  • Are there ways that you can enhance and grow this access and connection?
  • Consider social media, blogs.
figure out who you re not serving but should be and reach out to them
Figure Out Who You’re NOT Serving – But SHOULD Be – and Reach Out to Them.
  • This may be underrepresented segments of your community or your user-base.
  • This is an opportunity to create interest – and allies – for the archives!
reaching out the importance of meeting your patrons where they are when they re there
Reaching out– the Importance of Meeting Your Patrons Where They Are, When They’re There.
  • Doing a general demographic survey
  • Assessing new user expectations and impediments to use
  • Assessing users’ Information Seeking Behavior
  • Use of finding aids
  • Faculty educational goals and methods
  • Efficacy of archival literacy sessions
  • Metadata and presentation standards for digital collections.
the reference interview and how it may differ from that in a library setting
The Reference Interview – and how it may differ from that in a Library setting.
  • Much of the reference interview per se is the same from an archival to a library setting.
  • But one way that it differs is that you as the archivist can really engage your patron(s) in a detailed conversation about the collection – and look over the finding aid with the researcher.
  • In asking them what they need/want to get at, ascertain if the finding aid answers their needs. If not, there may be related collections that may complement/supplement your patron’s information needs.
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Develop the Best Methods to Reach Out to Your Patrons and Make Pleasant and Comfortable Research Experiences for Them.
  • If your patrons don’t understand the finding aid, this is an opportunity to make a deeper connection – and understand how they seek out information – and try to reach them at that point.
  • Something to consider is to offer access to unprocessed material. I do this pretty regularly in my shop. This is a great opportunity, too, to learn more about the collection from the user’s point of view – and thus structure the finding aid or inventory accordingly.
how key it is that we stay on top of and using outreach and research methods
How Key it is That We Stay On Top of – and Using Outreach and Research Methods.
  • Very key!
  • Understanding fully who our core customer base is already is important.
  • Understanding who is not part of that base – but should be – is just as important.
  • You can accordingly develop outreach to those already well-served and those not yet served – using traditional methods as well as reaching out in new ways.
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Our Patrons Can Become Allies in Many Respects – Including Advocacy for Funding – on Local, State, National Levels.
  • If we’re reaching people with their needs met – they will be grateful, and want this access to continue. Often their testimony/letters/emails/telephone calls to decision makers are the strongest when funding matters come up, etc.
staying current with those populations via survey methods and then really implementing the results
Staying Current With Those Populations via Survey Methods – and then REALLY Implementing the Results.
  • This may entail doing things like:

- Restructuring how we present our finding aids

- Bending some policies (at times!) to meet users’ convenience levels

- Changing hours for best and most convenient access.