Libraries & Museums: Participatory Places

Slide from Nina Simon's April 2011 presentation, "Inspiring Visitor Participation."

Thinking, reading, and writing about the mission of librarians this week, I’ve started to really imagine “libraries as sites of participatory culture”. I stole that label from this excellent presentation by Buffy Hamilton, The Unquiet Librarian. This radical idea made me think about other “sites of participatory culture” and I couldn’t help but think about Nina Simon. She blogs at Museum 2.0 and recently published a book–a real one with paper pages and hard covers–called The Participatory Museum. Unfortunately, as I write this, the site is down–hacked–but hopefully it’ll be back up and running by the time you click. 

I had the pleasure of hearing Simon present this idea of museum as a “site of participatory culture” last April, right after I had decided for sure to go to library school. I spent the entire time thinking, “But…this is just like what libraries do…” If you’re interested in considering libraries as hubs for community participation in culture, learn more about Simon’s work. Watch the video of her April presentation at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in Philadelphia, or at least look at the PDF of her presentation. She even talks about HumanLibrary.org and Design by the Book, a cool project by the New York Public Library.

Watch Nina’s presentation, “Inspiring Visitor Participation” at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, April 22, 2011:

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