Case Studies: The Field Museum of Natural History

The Field Museum of Natural History

Email lists can benefit museum communication by improving outreach to the public and internal communication among museum staff. Because email is instantaneous, museums can be assured that timely information will reach members and staff immediately. Email can also be a powerful tool for marketing memberships and appealing to donors. The types of relevant announcements that can be sent include event calendars, reception invitations and museum news, including new exhibitions.

"L-Soft's LISTSERV products are the best of breed in the email list niche and for good reason: Their software is easy to use, flexible, reliable and cost-effective."

The purpose of The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago is stated as the "accumulation and dissemination of knowledge, and the preservation and exhibition of objects illustrating art, archaeology, science, and history." This 100-year-old institution first began using email lists for effective communication among its internal staff. Subsequently, email updates were sent to the museum's specially trained educators and board of trustees.

"We had an open source Majordomo server initially, and when I decided the overhead of that project was too costly, I immediately went to L-Soft because they are the best of breed and they had the right product at the right price," Neil Young, Manager of Application and Enterprise Services, said. "L-Soft's LISTSERV software provides an easy-to-use interface that allows us to have multiple moderators approve the heavy load of email with minimal impact on our operations or our email server. LISTSERV allows HTML formatted email and attachments to be sent out as easily as plain text - something the open source solution we had before couldn't manage. Also, the management interface is so simple we were able to set up other mailing lists for our users to use so that IT has only a minimal support role."

L-Soft's email list communication technology can be outsourced or run independently on an institution's computer network. The Field Museum technical staff incorporated LISTSERV software on their server and today sends moderated system-wide messages to approximately one thousand email accounts 10 to 15 times a week and sometimes as often as seven times a day. Their museum-wide list broadcasts about 10 to 15 emails per week to 1050 email addresses. They have four other lists that range from 100 to 275 recipients and send between one to eight messages a month. The constant stream of information is handled automatically and the software can be easily adapted for new projects in the future.

Case study written in December 2003 with Neil Young, Manager of Application and Enterprise Services, The Field Museum.

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