Lehi Historical Society Challenges
- Searchable public interface
- Multimedia collections including an image library
- SaaS (vendor-hosting) to take the place of in-house IT support
- Enrich content by attaching files and notes to records
Lehi Historical Society & Archives
A New Perspective
Director Lara Bangerter has a background as a journalist rather than as an archivist, so when she was brand new to the Lehi Historical Society there was a bit of a learning curve. In terms of collection records, she inherited simply a large selection of Excel documents listing thousands of items by number, with no hierarchy and no location. The Society’s digital images were all stored on Google drive.
She shared that “Although most things were physically organized, our information needed to be fully searchable and everything needed a location. I could not see how to better our situation without a collections management system.”
When Ms. Bangerter reached out to various CMS vendors, she felt that most of them didn’t understand what she was trying to accomplish. However, when she reached the ArchivEra team, they understood her goals and requirements, talked with her at her level (understanding that she isn’t a trained archivist), answered all her questions, offered guidance, and “in a sense, provided archives training in the course of our implementation.”
What really made a difference to Ms. Bangerter is that “ArchivEra’s interface is user-friendly. It looks like other things one does on the computer instead of something for academics only. We needed something that would not be overwhelming to me or our volunteers. Of the companies I looked at, ArchivEra was the only one that achieved that.”
Ms. Bangerter is a solo practitioner, but is supported by volunteers, often including MLS students. “ArchivEra has so many features, but they can be whittled down to just the things I want on the first screen, so that it’s as simple as possible when I’m showing volunteers what I want them to do.” Having a collections management system has made the Historical Society even more attractive to Master’s of Library Science majors as a volunteer/internship opportunity—and they bring more “tech savvy” to the table in exchange for work experience.
The Historical Society is funded by an annual grant from the City, as well as other smaller grants for which they apply, and proceeds from their own store, which sells puzzles, calendars, and Lehi history books, among other things. With limited resources, they do not have any IT support, so it was critical to implement a vendor-hosted CMS (SaaS, or Software-as-a-Service) for routine system maintenance, upgrades, etc.
Ms. Bangerter shared with us that her predecessor was an avid local historian who founded the Historical Society & Archives; she refers to him as “The Great Collector”, while with ArchivEra she now sees herself as “The Organizer”. Her “biggest thrill” is the uniformity and organization of the collections information, but in addition Ms. Bangerter particularly loves their Lehi City Mary Ann Judd Johnson Art Collection. It consists of 230 watercolors highlighting historic Lehi, including buildings, bridges, roads, homes, and events. Part of the Historical Society’s emerging digitization strategy involves adding images of these and other artworks to the public portal. In reference to the portal, Ms. Bangerter told us that “There is no better way to show what the Historical Society is doing—you make us look so good!”
Home of Silicon Slopes, Lehi has experienced rapid growth, moving from a city with a population of 15,000 to 80,000 in the last 25 years. Yet there is definitely still “Lehi Pride”; Ms. Bangerter told us, “We have really great community support, because people don’t want old Lehi to be lost. We make people happy every day when they come in, with the support of ArchivEra and the Lucidea team.”