Providing collection care, preservation and conservation treatment services to collectors and collecting institutions.
by Eric Swanson
As the Internet and World Wide Web continue to grow, more organizations - including museums, historical societies and others charged with the preservation of material culture - have recognized the power of computers. The Internet and the World Wide Web enable the museum world to distribute information and services in a more cost effective manner.
What does this mean for people in the museum and history fields? First, customer expectations of how we deliver services will change. Second, the Internet has the potential to vastly increase the need for our services. Whether it is conservation information in response to the1997 floods in Grand Forks, N.D. (www.mnhs.org/prepast/conserve/flood.html), a local historical organization seeking technical assistance or training, or a family who wants to preserve a cherished family heirloom, information technology offers many opportunities to expand the demand for our technical expertise. Web sites, Usenet newsgroups and discussion lists offer information ranging from planning to virtual exhibits.
The best way to learn about the Internet is to spend time online. Access is affordable and available in most areas. Look under 'Internet' or 'Computers' in the Yellow Pages, or call a friend, the library or the phone company and find an Internet Service Provider (ISP). They will set you up with a dial-up account, software and instructions.
Once online, general sites such as Essential Links (www.el.com) and Hotsheet (www.hotsheet.com) list resources which provide direction for finding specific sites. There are over 100 search engines at SEARCH.COM (www.search.com) to help find information fast.
Check out history resources at Horus' Web Links to History Resources (www.ucr.edu/h-gig/) and browse 21,700 genealogy links at Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites (www.CyndisList.com). For conservation resources, try Conservation Online (palimpsest.stanford.edu). This site contains a wealth of information about conservation including conservation site links and articles on specific topics.
Try the Webmaster's Reference Library (webreference.com) for answers and information regarding web methods and technology or look at TUCOWS - The Ultimate Collection of Winsock Software (www.tucows.com) for multimedia and web related software reviews arranged by category. Most programs are shareware or can be downloaded on a trial basis. Most software is provided free, over the Internet, to non-profits. (“.org” or “.edu” is at the end of your e-mail address.)
The next column will focus on specific history resources including web sites, discussion lists and Usenet newsgroups. Future topics include online exhibit and web site planning, design and implementation. Tips, tricks and methods regarding all aspects of webmastering will also be addressed. Send in your comments and questions and we will try to incorporate them into this column.
Eric Swanson, former Webmaster for the Minnesota Historical Society (www.mnhs.org), has been developing websites since spring of 1995. Special thanks to Homer Hruby and Jason Peterson who assisted Eric with the information in this article.