Community Heartbeat: ROAAr Collections and Community Engagement

2018-10-10T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Sundberg, Jacquelyn D'Eall
<p>Since its creation in 2016, ROAAr (Rare & Special Collections, the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, the Visual Arts Collection, and Archives) has worked to create moments of discovery with extraordinary collections. Our rare collections are rich in depth and potential, but little known outside the research community. So, how do we open up these collections to new audiences? How do we foster a new kind of engagement with rare materials? In the 2017-18 academic year, we answered those questions by hosting an ambitious new series of public events and exhibitions, supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The goals of this series were to increase the visibility of our collections, to build community partnerships, to raise attendance numbers, and to animate our collections for new audiences. The capstone event was a ROAAr colloquium, which synthesized knowledge of visiting experts and created a strategic communications plan for our unit to guide engagement with our community. This poster presents a summary of the extraordinary public response to the lecture series, as well as the less tangible impacts such as new community connections that these events fostered. Survey data collected at each event shows that this series brought a significant number of first-time-visitors into our space, and, over the academic year, new attendees turned into repeat guests. The series created a new kind of engagement with our collections that we are now sharing openly on Youtube, talking about on social media, and building on as we look forward to new possibilities for the coming year.</p>