Increasing Capacity for Cultural Programs

Traveling Exhibitions

Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World at Mountain Home (Idaho) Public Library

“Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World” at Mountain Home (Idaho) Public Library (click on image to enlarge in new window)

John Adams Unbound at Drake University's Cowles Library, Des Moines, IA

“John Adams Unbound” at Drake University’s Cowles Library, Des Moines, IA (click on image to enlarge in new window)

In a Nutshell: The Worlds of Maurice Sendak at Laramie County Library, Cheyenne, WY

“In a Nutshell: The Worlds of Maurice Sendak” at Laramie County Library, Cheyenne, WY (click on image to enlarge in new window)

Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience at Highland Park (Ill.) Public Library

“Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience” at Highland Park (Ill.) Public Library (click on image to enlarge in new window)

The ALA Public Programs Office toured 11 traveling exhibitions to 123 public, academic, and special libraries, reaching an estimated audience of more than 46,000 library patrons through related programs. The following exhibitions continue their tours in 2011:

Additionally, five new traveling exhibitions were announced, and two currently traveling exhibitions received additional support to extend their reach.

Three new traveling exhibitions were developed by the ALA Public Programs Office and Nextbook, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Jewish literature, culture, and ideas. The national tours of the exhibitions have been made possible by grants from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, and an anonymous donor, with additional support from Tablet Magazine: A New Read on Jewish Life. From May 2011 through February 2012, 108 libraries will host one of these three exhibitions for a period of six weeks:

  • In a Nutshell: The Worlds of Maurice Sendak
    Based on a major retrospective exhibition created by the Rosenbach Museum & Library, Philadelphia, this exhibition reveals the push and pull of New and Old Worlds in Sendak’s work and shows how Sendak’s artistic journey has led him deeper into his own family’s history and his Jewish identity.
  • Emma Lazarus: Voice of Liberty, Voice of Conscience
    In this exhibition, a vital woman is brought to life in all her fascinating complexity. Viewers see Lazarus's place in history as a poet, an activist, and a prophet of the world we live in today. The exhibition traces her life, intellectual development, work and lasting influence.
  • A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, 1910–1965
    Illustrated with colorful posters from Broadway shows and photographs of composers, singers, and the casts of hit musicals and films, this exhibition highlights the lives and works of Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, and a host of other Jewish songwriters who wove the American songbook deep into the fabric of American culture.

Forty public and academic libraries will host “Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible,” a new traveling exhibition developed by the ALA Public Programs Office and the Folger Shakespeare Library with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The exhibition will travel from September 2011 through July 2013. Based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, with assistance from the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas, the traveling exhibition tells the story of the origins, creation, and impact of the King James Bible, including its influence on English and American literature and its multifaceted impact on culture and society to the present day.

The ALA Public Programs Office, in partnership with the National Center for Interactive Learning, the Space Science Institute, the Lunar and Planetary Institute, and the National Girls Collaborative Project, announced that 10 public libraries will host an interactive traveling exhibition called “Discover Earth: A Century of Change” for a period of eight weeks from January 2012 to December 2013. The “Discover Earth” exhibition will focus on local earth science topics—such as weather, water cycle and ecosystem changes—as well as a global view of our changing planet.

Two hundred sites, including libraries, museums, community centers, heritage organizations, and institutions of higher learning, will host “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” an exhibition developed in partnership with the National Constitution Center with support from NEH. The exhibition will visit each site for a period of six weeks from August 2011 through December 2015. Following the positive response to the ongoing tour of 50 public, academic, and special libraries, funding from NEH will support the expansion of this exhibition tour to reach 200 communities through libraries and other centers for community learning.

Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery” is a traveling exhibition developed in cooperation with the Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to celebrate astronomy and its contributions to society and culture. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration provided major funding for the panel display. Fifty-five public libraries hosted the exhibition from January 2009 through May 2011, showing the public how our understanding of the universe has changed over time. The exhibition will travel to the nine additional selected libraries from September 2011 through June 2012.

Discussion and Engagement

Edward Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and Let's Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War national project scholar, speaks at a workshop sponsored by the ALA Public Programs Office

Edward Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War” national project scholar, speaks at a workshop sponsored by the ALA Public Programs Office (click on image to enlarge in new window)

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women at the Oceanside (Calif.) Public Library

“Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women” at the Oceanside (Calif.) Public Library (click on image to enlarge in new window)

The “Great Stories CLUB” (Connecting Libraries, Underserved teens, and Books) reaches troubled teens through reading and discussing books that are relevant to their lives. The program encourages libraries to work with community partners such as juvenile justice facilities, alternative high schools, drug rehabilitation centers, and other nonprofits serving teens. Funding was provided for this program by Oprah’s Angel Network. In 2011, the ALA Public Programs Office, in cooperation with the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), selected 150 libraries to receive 11 sets of three, theme-related books to provide to members of a reading club as part of the fourth round of “Great Stories CLUB” grants. Since 2005, more than 33,000 books have been distributed to nearly 1,000 Great Stories CLUBs, sparking conversations among teen readers in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

In May, the ALA Public Programs Office received additional support for the “Great Stories CLUB” from the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant supported author visits to eight Great Stories Club programs held in juvenile justice facilities in New York, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana. This “Great Stories CLUB” author tour began in July 2011, and featured live readings, Q&A sessions, and writing workshops led by Walter Dean Myers, Jennifer Brown, Coert Voorhees, and Coe Booth.

Thirty libraries received $2,500 grants to support five reading, viewing, and discussion programs featuring the documentary Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women and the companion biography of the same name. The library outreach program for “Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women” is a collaboration among NEH, the ALA Public Programs Office, and Nancy Porter and Harriet Reisen for Filmmakers Collaborative. The film, biography, and library programs will re-introduce audiences to Alcott by presenting a story full of fresh insights, startling discoveries about the author, and a new understanding of American culture during her lifetime.

Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War” follows the popular “Let’s Talk About It” model, which engages participants in discussion of a set of common texts selected by a nationally known scholar for their relevance to a larger, overarching theme. The ALA Public Programs Office and NEH announced that 65 public, academic, and community college libraries will receive “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War” reading and discussion program grants. The selected libraries received a cash grant to support program expenses and program support materials, including 30 copies of three titles, promotional materials, and training for the local project director.

In June, the ALA Public Programs Office announced that it received funding from the Fetzer Institute to support “Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion,” a multiformat discussion program for public audiences. By bringing adult audiences together in the library for programs and events that include reading, viewing, reflection, discussion, and civic engagement initiatives, this programming initiative will support public libraries as they strive to enhance the quality of life and learning in their communities. Following a competitive application, conversations will be convened in 30 public libraries in 2012.