CONCORD, N.H. -- The New Hampshire Historical Society has ambitious plans to begin exhibiting its treasures around the state and online.
The society's executive director, William Veillette, envisions putting the organization's 1.5 million pages of letters and other documents on the Internet, where they'd be easily available to researchers and others.
In his wildest dreams, he'd create downloadable driving tours that could be connected to a vehicle's navigation system to tell listeners what they're looking at as they travel through the state.
On a smaller scale, he's pushing to have some of the society's letters and objects displayed at the Mount Washington Hotel and other sites to make them more accessible outside Concord.
The ideas come largely from interviews he conducted with the society's trustees and members.
Veillette said listening skills are crucial for an organization that gets no state or federal money and relies on gifts and memberships.
''If we do the things people tell us they want, our hope is they will join us and donate," Veillette said. ''We don't know if that will happen. But we do know if we don't do what people are telling us they want, they won't join and donate."
Veillette, 45, of Amherst, spent his career in business before being hired as director a year ago.
Teresa Rosenberger, vice chairwoman of the board of trustees, said Veillette's business background was immediately appreciated.
He put together a strategic plan in three months, not the six to 18 it usually takes, and he did it himself.
''To be where we are now, we would probably have had to hire a consultant to do what he's done," Rosenberger said. ''He has not only what I call the CEO background that really looks strategically at a business, but he also understands marketing and sales. And he understands our audience."
When Veillette realized that anticipated revenues weren't going to keep pace with increases in healthcare costs, he began looking at ways to make the society more efficient and to find new sources of revenue.
He cut his $90,000 annual salary by 5 percent, and all staff members are working this year without a raise.
In addition, the society's trustees agreed to increase their giving by 50 percent.
Along with those immediate adjustments, Veillette and the staff began looking for ways to expand the society's services and membership without significant additional cost.
To that end, they've struck an agreement with the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods to have an ongoing display in the lobby.
Veillette said the details are still being decided, but the items chosen will be about that part of New Hampshire.
''People told us, 'You are doing a great job, but all your stuff is in Concord. You are a statewide institution but you act like the city historical society.' They said, 'We can't enjoy it if we are not in Concord.' "
Similarly, the Historical Society of Cheshire County has agreed to display some of the items.
There will be eight sites, but the other locations have not been chosen.
Veillette also is focused on educating young people about the state's history.
Now that the state allows students to earn some credits outside of school, he'd like to create student internships.
Rosenberger said this is the first time in a while that she has felt energy and excitement at board meetings.
She credits Veillette with creating that charge.
''People are willing now to toss things out there and see if they work," Rosenberger said. ''He is trying to make history relevant and fun. It's exciting."