Digitization for Engagement in the Pandemic and Beyond

  • Laurinda Weisse orcid logo (University of Nebraska at Kearney)
  • Jaycie Vos (University of Northern Iowa)
  • Tessa Wakefield (University of Northern Iowa)
  • Kristina Warner (Norwegian-American Historical Association)


In this roundtable discussion, speakers will share their experiences at small to mid-sized institutions initiating digitization efforts to engage users during the pandemic and beyond. All three institutions found both rewards and challenges in their digitization efforts.

The pandemic encouraged the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Special Collections & University Archives to intensify digitization efforts to increase online discoverability and accessibility. Speakers will focus on two efforts: an online primary source literacy guide designed to support instruction and access to collections in a remote environment and a “Collection Highlights” website feature where student employees select and showcase digitized content to give users a glimpse behind the scenes.

In 2021, the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) tackled its first major grant-funded project to digitize the O. E. Rølvaag papers. During this project, staff realized the importance of finding new ways to engage members, students, and staff at St. Olaf College and the larger international community. We developed initiatives to include undergraduate and graduate students, created pop-up and digital exhibits, and developed “Inside the Archives” events.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) Archives & Special Collections developed two digitization streams, one for community-initiated projects and one for archives-initiated efforts. We will look at one example of each. UNK made available the Country School Legacy oral histories, which were used in a Nebraska History blog post assignment. The archives also strengthened ties with a local organization by digitizing and hosting the contents of its 1920s time capsule.

Keywords: digitization, digital projects, community engagement

How to Cite:

Weisse, L., Vos, J., Wakefield, T. & Warner, K., (2022) “Digitization for Engagement in the Pandemic and Beyond”, MAC Annual Meeting Presentations 2022(1).



Published on
07 May 2022