Building User Engagement for a Sustainable Future

The Florida Memory site first came online in 1996, and today it enjoys over forty-eight million page views each year from folklorists, historians, musicians, teachers, students, and others who use this rich collection. The Florida Folklife Collection, launched online in 2003, is one of Florida Memory’s most popular components. A digital repository of thousands of photographs and films, the collection is especially noted for its diverse mix of audio recordings, including vocal and instrumental music, ethnographic field recordings, and interviews. While retrospective digitization forms a significant focus of the Folklife Collection, it is also future looking and continues to be fed by an ongoing research program in folklore. Through the support of multiple federal grants over more than a decade, Florida Memory has been able to upgrade its user interface, expand its social media and outreach initiatives, and increase its scope. To ensure its continued sustainability and future growth, Florida Memory employs a targeted outreach strategy to make its website and multiple collections an indispensable and beloved part of the Florida cultural landscape.

This case study is one of eight conducted as part of an IMLS-funded project in collaboration with the Association of Research Libraries. The final report, Searching for Sustainability: Strategies from Eight Digitized Special Collections, offers findings drawn from all eight cases, highlighting the ways in which libraries and cultural heritage organizations have undertaken to move their special collections into the 21st century through digitization and ongoing investments to ensure the collections remain valuable to users over time.