An organisation’s collection often holds significant value for a variety of audiences. Providing users with easy access to the content most valuable to them is essential for creating positive user experiences, and ensuring a collection is utilised to its full potential.

When using a digital collections management platform, a filtered search functionality offers a simple way for users to find exactly what they need. Additionally, clear links between related items provide contextual connections while revealing background context, telling the story or narrative behind each item.

Although both methods deliver relevant and engaging user experiences, neither provide an administrator with the ability to emphasize collections they determine relevant, engaging or interesting to their target audience.

Administrators of digital collections need to be able to direct user’s attention to information they believe to be significant to their audience. With a collection management system, the primary method of achieving this is to incorporate collection showcases.

What are the benefits of showcasing a collection?

Collection showcases are key to bring attention to a specific item or sub-collection. Providing the correct tools are available, administrators are able to utilise collection showcases to display, promote, and bring their audiences attention to special collections held within their inventory.

A collection showcase can be used to direct attention towards a unique collection, encourage a community to contribute to an open collection project, or provide an audience with a taste of what’s to be expected. Administrators can direct viewers to a desired location, which means they can significantly improve an audience’s user experience through giving easy access to the best and most relevant content a collection has to offer.

Additionally, by promoting a collection on a digital collection platforms home page an administrator can effectively convey the type of content their collection holds, encouraging their target audience to explore further.

Showcasing Collections with Recollect

Depending on how much attention an administrator would like to give an item or topic, the Recollect platform provides various techniques that can be used to showcase a collection – notably display methods such as dedicated static pages or information hubs.

Administrators can decide exactly how much attention they want a collection to receive due to the configurability and customisation available with each method.

For example, an information page provides a brief description of a sub-collection and links to relevant items, allowing a user to explore related material and discover the connections for themselves. Alternatively, a showcase structured as a dedicated static page is highly customisable with various tools and widgets, allowing an administrator to tell a specific, detailed story held in their collection.

Information Hubs

Information hubs let administrators provide detailed information surrounding a specific topic. As one of the most common methods of contextualising specific items, information hubs can describe a person, subject, item, or other topic of interest within a collection. As well as providing descriptive details, an information hub displays every item within the collection that is related to the central topic, which may take the form of a journal, a map, or another unique item.

A strong example of this is the way the State Library of South Australia used an information hub to display the comprehensive history about a specific person, Sir Keith Smith. As a pioneer aviator, Sir Keith Smith played a significant role in the development and modernisation of early international aviation. SLSA holds important information and items related to Sir Keith Smith, so they decided to create an information hub to display his biography alongside links to relevant collections such as photographs, manuscripts, objects, events, and other related items.

Static Pages

If an organisation holds a substantial amount of content regarding a specific topic, they may choose to create a static page where this content can be gathered, complied, and then promoted. Static pages allow for the use of tools and widgets like timelines that provide a more structured and curated method of storytelling.

The State Library of South Australia holds a large collection of items regarding Sir Keith Smith’s family (notably his brother Sir Ross Smith), their collective achievements, relevant objects, and significant place in aviation history — so they opted to use the static page method to focus on the topic of the Smith Brothers. SLSA were able to showcase each of the relevant members of the Smith family and the acquaintances that aided their great feats. A static page meant SLSA could create a detailed a timeline of events about the Smith Brothers’ historical 30-day journey from England to Australia, featured alongside links to other information items that provide further context to the impressive story.

Your Collections, Your Way

A fundamental component for the success of showcasing relevant collections is understanding your audience and the motivations behind why they visit your digital collections. These collections can hold valuable content, but without effective communication this content can become irrelevant, underutilised, and forgotten.

University digital collections are primarily used for research and study purposes, so their collection showcases might be created for the purpose of developing research guides. In contrast, a local library might create a showcase collection to encourage their community to contribute their own content for a special project. For example, this type of showcase was undertaken by Upper Hutt City Libraries and the State Library of South Australia to gather audience stories and photographs relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Recollect has structured its collection showcase tools around a single idea — your collections should be presented your way. By providing a variety of tools that can be used to structure a collection showcase, Recollect allows administrators to showcase collections however they like: making sure they can take into account a collection’s significance, relevance, and uniqueness.

Recollect’s implementation process takes customers through various workshops to determine the best way to shape their collections, guided by the expertise of an experienced implementation team. If you’re interested in learning more about the implementation process, and how we help our customers determine and target their audience, read our Recollect Implementation resource.