Gil Gott and Shelly Drummond at AASLH Booth at annual conference, Louisville, KY, Sept. 2015By Shelly Drummond, Plant City Photo Archives and History Center, Plant City, FL

As a grateful recipient of a Small Museums Scholarship, I flew into Louisville, excited about attending my first AASLH conference. I looked forward to meeting old friends, making new contacts, and attending a number of sessions, roundtables, exhibits, and events. I also hoped to speak with colleagues on the direction of the field, explore new ideas to enrich our programs, and discover strategies to strengthen our small archives and history center’s sustainability.

The Plant City Photo Archives has a small gallery space dedicated to displaying local historical images from our collection. After attending sessions on technology and development, I learned how to use technology to improve and expand this presentation. I learned about the latest trends on mapping apps, the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer, and interesting social media campaigns. While the topics often seemed disparate, the lingering themes of earlier conversations strengthened the next sessions.

Development sessions reinforced the importance of community connections. Our small museum wants to increase its community presence. The task is finding links between our mission, the regional history, and the current political or social environment. By strengthening connections and developing more outreach through technology and creative programs, we can build organizations that people will value and support.

I was pleased to be able to meet up with other alumni from Western Kentucky University. In our stories from the past and projects for the future, I was reminded Walking Tourthat the work we do may be relevant in ways we never anticipated. It echoes the theme, Power of Possibility, which suggests innovation, creativity, and potentially unexpected results.

My experiences at the Annual Meeting have not only helped our small museum with project development, they’ve also helped renew our sense of purpose. I look forward to sharing the results with you in Detroit.