This January, the MHC joined the University of Maine Humanities Center for the Downtown Bangor Public Humanities Day. Staff member Kate Webber presented as part of the kickoff event, a Pecha Kucha style presentation with a wide range of humanities professionals and enthusiasts.
Kate discussed her role managing the MHC’s social media platforms, posing the question: “How are we interacting with the humanities in ways that we don’t realize?” Using memes, online quizzes, and examples from other organizations, she illustrated the important humanities work that is being accomplished with new online tools, often in ways that aren’t openly acknowledged.
“It’s pretty common for us today to see the humanities and technology in opposition,” Kate stated. “Books versus computers. But social media is a tool to be used. If it’s taking away from the humanities, it’s because humanities organizations aren’t using it effectively.”
Discussing a “12 Humanities Resolutions for 2015” infographic from Humanities Nebraska that reached over 65,000 people, Kate said, “Each of those 65,000 people took a moment to think about the role of the humanities in their lives. For some of those people, that may have been the first time they had a reason to do that.” The MHC is reaching new audiences by meeting them where they actually are–whether by offering innovative programs like Think & Drink or by posting a book quiz on Facebook.
MHC’s social media game “Where are the Hugh Manatees in Maine?” was one example. A stuffed manatee is on its way to 44 Maine libraries; the audience guesses which library Hugh is visiting through shared photographs. This game gives the libraries a chance to show off their creativity, buildings, and programming. Through Hugh’s journeys, the MHC has expanded its connection to the libraries and their patrons.
“People love cute, trivial things,” Kate said. “It’s just a matter of balancing that with meaningful content.”