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Time for ANA to get techno savvy

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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In a front page, top right article, Numismatic News reported March 1 that American Numismatic Association membership is down to 28,500 members. This is the low end of the 20-year average of 28,000 to 32,000.

It was reported that Kim Kiik, ANA senior administration Manager, told the board that an aggressive membership campaigne will be announced shortly.

In the February 2011 edition of The Numismatist, ANA President Cliff Mishler wrote that ANA Governor Wendell Wolka wants to make the ANA library and museum more accessible to ANA members. Wolka wants the library to make it easier for members to reserve books by making the process electronic. He also wants to have rare and popular books digitized so that they may be electronically accessed by members.

On May 21, 2010, when I posted a follow-up to my post “ANA versus Technology: The ANA is Losing!,” I wrote that the ANA is doing very little to make the association accessible to the potential 20-something and 30-something members. Then, during my January discussion of electronic publication, I wrote:

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Numismatics is dominated by many people over 50. If there is a second age group, it is younger than 18. Missing in the demographic are those from 18-50 who might have been a Young Numismatist but dropped out in college and did not return until after their children have grown. This situation is unacceptable if the hobby is to survive!

The ANA can offer better outreach to this connected demographic by the appropriate use of technology. This does not have to cost a lot of money. It takes a little imagination to figure out where these potential members congregate online and deliver new content.

Based on the reporting of NN and the reporting in the February 2011 edition of The Numismatist, the ANA Board of Governors, the majority of whom are older than 50, are sticking their proverbial toes in the technology waters where the rest of the world has lapped them several times in the race for the attention of the ANA’s lost demographic.

Rather than try to be democratic about providing advice, I am going to be very specific in my recommendations:

1. While there is still time to plan, the open sessions at the World’s Fair of Money should be live streamed on a service like uStream. The ANA can start with board meetings and other open meetings involving the organization. How about broadcasting some of the Numismatic Theater talks on the Internet?

2. What about using something like GoToWebinar to broadcast Numismatic Theater presentations with electronic slides and audio available to anyone who wants to log in at the time of the event. The online portion can be saved so that members can view later on demand.

3. Borrow, lease, or buy any number of what is called “prosumer” video products that include sound capture and tripod setup to record video, find a member with basic editing tools to add titles and do some minor editing, and upload the video to YouTube for anyone to watch. For a less expensive option, I have been very impressed with the Flip Ultra HD. For $199.99 (list price), with two hours of high definition video and other amenities, it is a fine camera to mount on a tripod in a room and create a video. Find someone with a Mac that has iLife preloaded (like your blog host, an ANA member), and you have the beginnings of a basic editing studio.

4. Going further into the electronic video publishing environment, uStream can be used to set up pay-per-view, on-demand video. While I would love to attend the Summer Seminar, I have found that my work schedule has not been flexible enough to take the time to attend. However, if some of the courses were available online, I would pay to watch the videos. This is the ultimate money maker that can be used to support the video production environment. Create the video from the Summer Seminar and offer it online after the World’s Fair of Money at a price for one-third of the on-site course. For the price, the watcher gets the information but does not have the ability to interact with the instructor and other students.

5. If you search Google Books, you can find some of the books that are in the ANA library in the electronic catalog. There are also a few copies of The Numismatist available. These are all books and journals that have been scanned by university libraries in conjunction with Google. Has someone contacted Google to scan books whose copyrights have expired or out of print books (available through their court settlement with authors and publishers that will allow them to scan “orphaned” books) making them available for the entire numismatic community? Google provides much of the resources to do this and may welcome a different source of content for their vast online library.

In order to convince the ANA “lost demographic” to maintain their membership, the ANA should add more electronic resources and consider price breaks for this demographic. First, create a new tier what I will call the Lost Demographic. The Lost Demographic member would be a potential member who is older than 23 but not older than 32, was a registered YN member at any time prior to turning 23, and applied for the ANA’s basic membership; it would not be available for regular membership. Lost Demographic Basic Membership dues would be half of the difference between a regular and YN membership. For example, the Basic one-year membership for YN is $14 and Regular members $28. For the Lost Demographic Basic Membership would be $21 per year.

Finally, I am not one to sit on the sideline and throw stones by telling others what to do. Once again, I am willing to volunteer my services as an ANA member and a computing professional.
Although I have offered my voluntary services to the ANA many times in the past, I am using my personal soap box to offer my services. However, continued frustration will reduce my desire to help. Act now before it is too late!


This Viewpoint was written by Scott Barman, a collector and author of the Coin Collector’s Blog (coinsblog.blogspot.com).

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