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


  • Marcus Iannozzi

The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University (JCB) has one of the world's most impressive and extensive collections of manuscripts, maps, and books of early Americana, covering North and South America from Pre-Columbian times to 1825.  But its treasures appeared to be locked behind the 20-foot steel doors of a building with few windows and an imposing edifice. New leadership at the Library sought not only to open up access to its collections for remote scholars but also to demonstrate for broader audiences how these primary sources detailing the process of colonization and lost languages and cultures have tremendous relevance for today’s world.  With a rich set of material to present online, 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 JCB and its partner Message Agency helped the Library reimagine its web presence as it also sought a rebrand—from the development of detailed personas and user 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.

Who Should Attend

  • Content Editors
  • Decision Makers
  • Designers
  • Front-end Developers
  • Site Builders