Taking the Bodleian less seriously (with GIFs)

Pop quiz, hotshot. You’re appointed the social media manager for a world-renowned institution like Oxford’s Bodleian Library. What do you do? Obviously, you spend the next year making GIFs out of the thousands of precious cultural treasures hoarded there. At least that’s what Adam Koszary did.

It’s actually not an easy question. The audience is largely scholars and bookworms who probably pronounce GIF “gee eye eff.” Your bosses are academics who discourage experimentation, especially among young persons. It’s one thing for MedievalReacts to do it, but the Bod itself?

Turns out that, after a little breaking-in period, the powers that be were happy with the light touch given to this historically weighty material. And it helped that the numbers were rising — by the end of Koszary’s year on the job, they’d tripled engagement.

Not just because of randoms who liked silly stuff like the above, but because it’s a clever way to share some of the items that are otherwise best experienced in person, like this inverting memento mori or a rearrangeable “myriorama”:

As Koszary puts it in a post summarizing his experience:

Museums should spread knowledge and understanding online. But what I learnt was that to do so requires being human, and when it comes to the internet and social media, museums should be unafraid of embracing its culture, talking to people and taking risks.

That’s all, really, I just thought it was a good example of social media success in a niche where one doesn’t always expect social media success. It’s so easy to do it wrong, and it’s nice to see it done right.

And also because I love these GIFs so much. (via Metafilter)