If Monks had Wordpress: Medieval Libraries and Social Media

As part of my traineeship I’m responsible for maintaining Worcester Cathedral Library’s social media presence, employing a Facebook page, a WordPress blog and a Twitter account. Our library is located up 46 steps of a very narrow spiral staircase, which can make access very difficult for many people. Yet our collection encompasses a vast range of material that is of interest to an international audience. Social Media is therefore a really good vehicle by which we can increase access – at least electronically – into a space that is physically remote from most people.

As I mentioned in my last post here, I’m starting to get some of our volunteers to help write material for the library’s blog. Not only does this mean that we get a broader range of topics covered, it also takes some of the work load off me so that I can focus on my exhibition work, palaeography lessons and tours. Yet that doesn’t mean I can always put volunteer-written articles up on our blog without doing any work on them. I have to proof read them (just as my supervisor does with my own posts), make sure they’re appropriate (they all have been so far), and sometimes do a little tinkering to make them read a bit better.

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Quirky and fascinating, but maybe not beautiful. South American wildlife, allegedly. How could I not want to make material like this more readily accessible? Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK)

As part of a joint training session, all the Growing Worcestershire’s Treasure Skills for the Future trainees undertook a workshop on ‘Exciting Writing’, delivered by Kate Measures. I learnt an awful lot from this session about how to produce writing that is engaging, accessible, and of course exciting. Ever since, I have been trying to put the principles I learnt into practice – both in my own work and in that of my volunteers.

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Ditto, with these fine sea monsters I came across recently. Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK)

Running the Facebook page requires rather less facility with written language, but it is an excellent platform on which to quickly post pictures. Each day, I’m bound to come across something quirky, fascinating or beautiful (and sometimes all three) in the library – so it’s a simple case of photographing it and whacking it on to our page for our followers to enjoy!

Check out our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/WorcesterCathedralLibrary

And our blog at: http://worcestercathedrallibrary.wordpress.com/

Tom Hopkins

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