Theimer

Theimer, Kate. Web 2.0 Tools and Strategies for Archives and Local History Collections. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2010. ∞

In the same way that that the introduction of the web brought about a dramatic transformation of the archival field nearly two decades ago, the emergence of Web 2.0 has created a new universe of evolving challenges and opportunities. One aspect of Web 2.0 is the relative ease with which the average user can learn, through trial and error and by experiencing first hand, the various functionalities and intricacies of tools like Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and others: and this is how many archives have brought themselves into the social media fold. However, there are many others out there who, whether due to lack of resources or perhaps some shyness at the idea of going it alone, would welcome an opportunity to be introduced to this new world second hand before diving into it. Web 2.0 Tools and Strategies for Archives and Local History Collections serves this purpose very well.

Kate Theimer's blog (www.archivesnext.com) forms the core of a nexus of resources and initiatives, including the Archivists-on-Twitter Daily and the Best Archives on the Web Awards. It has become invaluable to archivists and has carved out for Theimer an enviable distinction within the archival field: web 2.0 guru. I use the word "guru" instead of "expert" for good reason: Theimer's success comes not only from her tenacity in remaining one step ahead of the feverish unfolding of the 2.0 universe, but also her understanding that using 2.0 successfully means finding your own unique voice, rather than simply following instructions. In other words, Theimer has the wisdom to take on the role of guide instead of authority, which is what makes her approach so successful.

Web 2.0 Tools and Strategies for Archives and Local History Collections is much more than an instruction manual on using Web 2.0: it also helps the reader explore the operational context of using such tools by encouraging readers to review their institutional missions, strategies and reasons for making such a significant change. The book also provides useful examples of the use of Web 2.0 by archives, and contains a great deal of practical advice for institutions on a range of activities, from using various software to measure the impact and success of creating Facebook pages; blogging; twittering; podcasting and Youtubing.

One thing to keep in mind is that Theimer's advice and guidelines stem from the viewpoint that the primary purpose of archives is their use. While this core assumption may not necessarily jibe with everyone, she is unapologetically preaching to an ever-growing choir within the archival field, ready to face the reality that Web 2.0 is changing the expectation of archives users and expanding use in general.

It is difficult to review this book without seeing it as one element of the wider suite of tools and initiatives Theimer has created. Personally, I have never been able to learn how to use online resources by reading about them, favouring the "learn as I go" approach; however, any success I have had in using 2.0 for my own institution's holdings must be attributed in large part to pioneers like Kate Theimer, who entered what perhaps seemed in its early stages to be a most unarchival realm, and in doing so, changed the shape of archival science and practice.

Gabrielle Prefontaine, University Archivist & FIPPA Coordinator, g.prefontaine@uwinnipeg.ca, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba

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Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research (ISSN: 1911-9593)