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Open Conversations: Public Learning in Libraries and Museums

Open Conversations: Public Learning in Libraries and Museums

Libraries Unlimited

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David Carr

ISBN-13: 9781591587712

175 pages • 6 x 9¼ 
Year Published: 2011

This book offers a way for staff members of cultural institutions to reimagine their roles as provocative educators and community advocates, address the public need for conversations in safe and fair places, and renew their essential place in democratic society.

In previous eras, libraries and museums were regarded as sanctified repositories of knowledge entrusted with the maintenance of records and archives, and the collection and stewardship of historical artifacts. While these institutions can continue to play these roles in the 21st century, the advent of the Internet and other digital technologies has greatly diminished the need for libraries and museums to concentrate on documentation of the past. Arguably, today''s librarians and curators should focus their services on examining the present and future.

Open Conversations: Public Learning in Libraries and Museums is a provocative book, one that is designed to offer courage to cultural institution administrators and staff even as it opens their eyes to the possibility that their facilities can offer more than they are. Rather than offering prescriptive answers, the author invites readers to consider museums and libraries in fresh ways.

Author David Carr believes professionals in libraries and museums need to think more broadly. He challenges them to address communities, national social change, psychology, and learning, and to think about ways to frame their institutions, not as repositories or research chambers, but as instruments for human thinking. Now is the time for these institutions to recover their integrity and purpose as fundamental, informing structures in a struggling democracy. Based on lectures and previously published writings by the author, and drawing on new scholarship and research, the essays here will inspire professionals to understand their collections and institutions as instruments of personal, social, and cultural change.


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