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Collection vs. Curatio

Posted October 17, 2012 in Community Featured, Winterset

What is your theoretical model of a good friend? Does she sit back, and wait to see if you come over and talk to her?

What is your theoretical model of a good teacher? Does he collect all his knowledge, and then sit at the desk, waiting to find out if the students come over and ask him to teach?

What is your theoretical model of a good museum? Is it a place where the staff collects stuff, and then waits to see if anybody comes out to look at it?

What is your theoretical model of a good library? Is it a place where the librarians buy books and then wait to see if anybody wants to borrow them?

No.  No. No. And no again!

My point is that there is an outreach role for our friends, our teachers, our museums, and our libraries. We may collect a world of information, but if it is not made accessible to our community, then that information goes to waste. If you build a children’s library, and forget to read the stories to the children, what good have you done?

Curation (sometimes called outreach) is the activity of interpreting that world of information. Curation is the work that goes into delivering the product to the people in a way that they can get involved in it.

When I tried to show my daughter her brother’s new toy, I remember her wail so clearly, “I want to do it mythelf!” And isn’t that just the point? We’re not captivated by something we have to look at from a distance. We want to touch it and feel it and experience it. The best libraries, museums and schools have figured this out, and they are providing great programs to get us involved in the content.

I love Passport to the Past precisely for this reason. Yes, we have history, and we want everyone to experience it. So we have story-tellers, we have quill pens, a one-room schoolhouse, horses, hay, we put our hands in the dirt and plant peanuts, Susan B. Anthony leads you through the court house, and much more.

We curators involve the community in our history and our culture.

Winterset Public Library
123 North Second St.
Hours: Mon. – Thur.: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Fri. – Sat.: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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