History may shape the future, but, in the case of the Ottawa Jewish Archives, the future is helping to shape the past.
Since joining Facebook, the Archives has earned more than 570 “likes” on its page.
“It’s taking off,” archivist Saara Mortensen told the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.
The Facebook page was launched in 2013 be then-archivist Emily Leonoff. Since joining the Archives last October, Mortenson has continued to use the Facebook page to build an online sharing format to increase the Archives public profile and ensure its collections are more accessible to a wider community.
“We don’t really have an avenue to display our exhibit in and items from the collection,” explained Mortensen. “It’s an accessibility issue.”
Mortensen said she’s using Facebook as “a starting ground for getting online” and a beginning to widen audience accessibility.
“Until we can make the collection accessible online to everyone, what we’re doing right now is just featuring parts of the collection through social media.”
Mortensen hopes to further build the Archives’ online presence by partnering with the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network and to have the collection be searchable online via the Network.
In the meantime, Mortensen is focusing on fostering an online community filled with engagement and customer service. Via Facebook, the Archives interacts with Facebook followers and community members by responding to questions and requests, “so it’s more like a real time conversation,” explained Mortensen.
“It’s really been fantastic,” said Mortensen about having this social media outlet for the Archives to engage with the community.
“The community is where the community history and knowledge lies,” Mortensen said, adding that she’ll often post a photo in which a person is not identified, but someone within the community will make that identification or share a related story to the depicted event.
Another forum for the Archives to create conversations with the community is participation in the annual Doors Open Ottawa event. On June 7, the Archives participated for a second year and welcomed about 110 people.
During the open house, Mortensen showcased some highlights from the Ottawa Jewish Archives collection to “help people gain a better understanding of what the Archives collects and what we do.”
A variety of panels were featured, including one on Congregation Beth Shalom, a Torah mantle conserved by the Canadian Conservation Institute, and a panel on Jews in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Visit the Ottawa Jewish Archives on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ottawajewisharchives.
Mortensen can be contacted via the Facebook page, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-798-4696, ext. 260.
“If anyone has any questions or things they’d like to share” said Mortensen, “we’re always open.”