Libraries in Unusual Places: Collaboration Between LAM Institutions

Claire Reinert will lead the first half of the session on Wednesday, 10 March 2021.

and we'll have a guest join us for the second half

Readings for the our consideration of the topics for this session

Our conceptualization of a “library” should be broadened to include museums, archives, and such places where the public is encouraged to engage with information through reading.

A museum educator is trained to create programs to increase community engagement with the museum content, beyond that available in the displays.

In the same way, one could think of library outreach as a way to increase community engagement with the library, beyond what is included in the library’s physical collections. The types of programs put on by each are probably very similar in purpose, so why not collaborate?

These types of institutions don’t exist in a vacuum—most large cities probably have a library, a museum, and an archive of some sort, so broadening how we think of these types of institutions (as working together to achieve the same goal—public engagement with/through information) then we can create a more collaborative, open environment.


Why? Because they all serve a similar purpose, so it doesn’t help to think about them in isolation.

Take the Lilac Museum Steamship: created by an artist, operated by librarians, as a museum outreach program.

If we broaden the scope of the library’s definition, we can start to apply other methods and ideas to libraries, as well.

Discussion Questions to Ponder for Class:

  • Should our definition of “public libraries” be broadened to include any sort of place where the public is encouraged to read and engage with information (does one have to be able to officially check out a book for an institution to qualify as a library?)? What are the pitfalls of doing so, if any?
  • We’ve established the importance of community outreach to public libraries, but it’s also very important to museums and archives. How are the missions and goals of these institutions similar?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of libraries operating by themselves? Of collaborating with similar institutions?

Read these two and plan to post a consideration about them.

  1. Rachel Woody, "The Intersection of Libraries, Archives, and Museums"
  2. Gunter Waibel, "Library, Archive, and Museum Convergence"

In-Class Discussion Schedule:

  1. Browse pictures and examples of libraries in unusual places, brainstorm other ones that we’ve heard about. Talk about the definition of public libraries—should we broaden that definition, given the wide variety of institutions we’ve seen?
  2. End browsing on the Lilac Steamship Library, introduce the concept of collaboration between cultural heritage institutions - are they stronger together? Talk about the readings and the theoretical similarities between the institutions.
  3. Look at examples of successful, permanent collaboration: Presidential Libraries and the NLS. Are they libraries, museums, or archives? Or both?

Guest speakers

Marian Fragola Patrick Holt

Our guests will be a continuation of our discussion about possibilities. We will be joined by Marian Fragola, SILS MSLS 2008, from NC State's Library and by her colleague, Patrick Holt, SILS MSLS 2009, of the Durham County Library.

Marian will speak about programming for a general audience at an academic library and the idea of building community.

Patrick does programming for Durham County Library, including their Comics Fest, and he also developed a community group for people who make and are interested in comics.

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