Picturing America Audio Tours
Offering an audio tour of the Picturing America collection is a great way to bring a museum-like experience to your library. Staff with the Wilbraham Public Library (WPL) in Massachusetts came up with this creative way to engage their users, and have offered the following tips:
If space permits, display side A of the twenty-poster Picturing America set throughout the library, then rotate to display side B. Libraries with limited space can display a smaller portion of the collection, working through it in sequence, organizing images by medium, subject, theme, or other commonality.
Provide access to recorded information about each image for library visitors to listen to while touring your exhibit. Staff at WPL used the image-specific introductory text from the Picturing America Teachers Resource Book; download the files they created.
If you would like to create your own image introductions, there are several free and low-cost options for recording audio and creating files for your exhibit. WPL used Audacity, a free multi-platform recording and editing software that is easy to use. Tutorials and forums are available online to give you step-by-step instructions.
Load the audio files that correspond with the images on display to an MP3 player that patrons can check out. There are several types of basic MP3 players that can be purchased inexpensively. WPL staff offers Overstock.com, Staples, and Radio Shack as a few suggestions for purchasing devices. MP3 players that feature a display are best so that listeners can see the title track and easily skip tracks if necessary.
Create an exhibit schedule and promote the audio tours as a self-guided way to learn more about American art history @ your library.