New Year, New Data!

January 3, 2023

By Jordan Meyerl

Happy New Year, everyone! As we enter 2023, the Roving Archivist Program (RAP) continues to gather data from the Wyoming Cultural Heritage Needs Assessment Survey. Thank you to every institution and individual who has completed the survey, and if you haven’t done so, please consider doing so! The survey will remain live until Friday, February 3, 2023.

As we enter into the 2023 and the halfway point of data collection, I wanted to share some of the preliminary data that has been collected. While the final survey results will differ from these as a result of future responses, the preliminary figures still contain important insight into topics of importance. For instance, the preliminary data collected will influence the topics of RAP workshops to be hosted in 2023.

As of 1/3/2023, 40 institutions have responded to the survey in full. Of these responses, as seen in Figure 1, 18 of the institutions are museums, 7 are public libraries, 5 are historic sites/buildings, 5 are national and/or state parks, 2 are archives, 2 are academic libraries at a college/university, and 1 is a nature center, arboretum, or botanical garden.

Fig. 1: Preliminary breakdown of primary institutional function, out of 40 responses.

This information provides insight into the primary functions carried out by cultural heritage institutions in the state of Wyoming. However, considering the vast majority of institutions serve multiple functions, it is also necessary to consider other functions. Further data shows that 19 institutions identified additional functions as archives. While nearly half of the institutions identify themselves primarily as a museum, information related to additional functions and services is necessary to fully understand services provided.

Fig. 2: Preliminary breakdown of collection/material types, out of 233 responses.

As seen above in Figure 2, most institutions hold a number of different materials. Notably, 12.4% of materials held are books and bound volumes, 10.7% of materials held are historic objects, 11.6% of materials are photographic in nature, and 9% of materials are unbound sheets such as archival records. This information will be beneficial in determining topics of interest and the needs of our members. Material types that are common across institutions will be given greater focus in terms of workshops and distribution of resources. Similarly, any materials created by the RAP, such as a conservation best practices document, will directly reflect the common material types to best serve the wider community.

Finally, responses about workshops are of particular interest to the RAP as we begin planning our 2023 workshop series. While responses covered a wide variety of topics, the three most common were: conservation and preservation best practices, collections management, and community outreach. As we consider topics and instructors for workshops moving forward, we will prioritize topics that would benefit the greater number of institutions. Responses also indicated an overwhelming preference for online offerings, which will directly impact our workshop planning decisions.

These are only a few examples of how the data will be used moving forward. While the data collected in this survey covers a wide array of topics and will likely look different from this sneak peak, hopefully this provides insight into how the data collected will be used and influence the next steps of the RAP. Completing the survey is important to ensure our data is as accurate and representative of Wyoming’s cultural heritage institutions as possible.