Making the Arcane Relevant: Refreshing the John Carter Brown Library’s Web Presence for Non-Academic Audiences

The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University has one of the most impressive and extensive collections of manuscripts, maps, and books of early Americana on the planet, covering North and South America from Pre-Columbian times to 1825. But access to its treasures was locked behind the 20-foot steel doors of a building with few windows and an imposing edifice. New leadership at the Library wanted to not only open up access to more of its collection to scholars but also demonstrate for broader audiences how these chronicles detailing the process of colonization and lost languages and cultures have tremendous relevance for today’s world. With a rich set of material to work with, the JCB needed a sophisticated and flexible content strategy that satisfied the needs of academics and curious browsers alike.

This case study will cover how Message Agency helped the Library reimagine its web presence as it also sought a rebrand, from the development of detailed personas and journeys to identify the needs of current and aspirational audiences to constructing online exhibition-building tools and thematic browsing experiences using some of the latest Drupal 8 modules.