The Future of Yearbook

By Rachel Bjornestad
On April 10, 2014

As the times change, yearbooks give students a window to the past and serve as a reminder of a school’s history. With the rise in social media, questions have been raised about the importance of a physical yearbook. Next year, A-State’s WolfTracks Yearbook will be adjusting to this change by producing the traditional physical yearbook alongside a digital yearbook component in the hopes of increasing circulation of the publication.

The online publication will have the same content as the physical copy and viewers will be able to search the yearbook for names, organizations or activities.

The online copy can also be sent to alumni or students unable to pick up a print edition. Though no decision has been made as to how many printed copies will be available, the Leadership Center is hoping fewer printed copies will go to waste with the introduction of an online version.

In an email interview, yearbook advisor Katey Provence said the concerns for the future of the yearbook first began a few years ago when the Leadership Center started looking at how the yearbook matched up with the current technological trends.

“We began looking at options to make the yearbook more accessible to a larger population of our A-State family,” she said. “Our concern does not lie with getting rid of the yearbook program as a whole, but more so in finding a format to best reach the populations the yearbook should serve.”

This year’s yearbooks were released last week, and so far approximately 1,200 out of 3,250 printed copies have been distributed to students. The Leadership Center also plans to continue distribution at different events on campus.

Also new this year, students are also encouraged to contribute their input to the contents of the yearbook. ReplayIt, a mobile app created by Jostens, the company who publishes A-State’s yearbook, allows students to send photos of events that students on the yearbook staff may miss.

“Covering a campus of this size with a small staff is difficult at times,” Provence said. The ReplayIt app has been a big help for this issue.

Distribution has been a problem for some students as less than half of the printed yearbooks have been picked up.

“We have seen the same issues as in the past,” Provence said. “The first week is very exciting for students picking up a book, and after that they do not seem to have much regard for getting one or not.”

Jennifer L’Heureux, a senior economics major of Springdale, said social media may be a part of the problem in the low yearbook pickup rate.

“Everything you get in the yearbook you can find on social media just as fast,” she said.

Ana Garcia, a junior political science major of Jonesboro, said another reason for the lack of interest may be the lack of publicity once the yearbooks are printed.

“I don’t feel like they really promote it,” she said.

However, both Garcia and L’Heureux said the memories a yearbook provides benefit both the current and past students of A-State. While students and staff agree a yearbook is important, the format may be changed to fit with the times.

Provence agrees a publication to document the years on campus is necessary, but she does not know if an actual hardback yearbook will always be an answer for that publication.

Along with the consideration for a dually published online yearbook, the department is also working on developing online components for past yearbooks.

“We want this information to be accessible and more importantly, utilized,” Provence said.

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