Increasing Capacity for Cultural Programs

Traveling Exhibitions

Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery at the Florence (S.C.) Public Library

“Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery” at the Florence (S.C.) Public Library (click on image to enlarge in new window)

The ALA Public Programs Office toured 11 ongoing traveling exhibitions to 198 public, academic and special libraries, reaching an estimated audience of more than 81,000 library patrons through related programs. The following exhibitions continued their tours in 2012:

In 2012, the ALA Public Programs Office also began two new traveling exhibitions in partnership with the National Center for Interactive Learning at Space Science Institute, the Lunar and Planetary Institute and the National Girls Collaborative Project. Ten libraries were selected to host Discover Earth: A Century of Change from January 2012 to December 2013. The exhibition focuses on local earth science topics—such as weather, water cycle and ecosystem changes—as well as a global view of our changing planet. Discover Tech: Engineers Make a World of Difference will be hosted by eight public libraries from September 2012 to June 2014. The traveling exhibition was developed to raise awareness that engineers are real people who, through a creative and collaborative design process, arrive at practical solutions to help solve society's problems in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Discussion and Engagement

Great Stories CLUB author Coert Voorhees reads at the Southwest Oklahoma Juvenile Center

Great Stories CLUB author Coert Voorhees reads at the Southwest Oklahoma Juvenile Center (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)

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)

In 2012, the ALA Public Programs Office brought more than 173,300 children, teens, and families together for discussions on literature, art, and important community issues, sparking dialogue in 113 libraries. Three discussion and engagement grants were continued in 2012:

  • A series of 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 were hosted by thirty libraries. The library outreach program 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 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. Public and academic libraries hosted a five-part series of reading and discussion programs. At each session, the conversation focused on a different facet of the Civil War experience, using one or more common texts as a foundation and touchstone.
  • Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion, a multi-format discussion program for public audiences funded by the Fetzer Institute, brought adult audiences together in the library for programs and events that include reading, viewing, reflection, discussion, and civic engagement initiatives. This programming initiative supports public libraries as they strive to enhance the quality of life and learning in their communities.

The Great Stories CLUB (Connecting Libraries, Underserved teens and Books) received additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to support library visits from Great Stories Club (GSC) authors, including Coe Booth, Jennifer Brown, Walter Dean Myers and Coert Voorhes. This GSC Author Tour included visits with 370 teens in seven juvenile justice facilities, involving them in readings, Q&A sessions, journaling workshops and book signings. The Great Stories CLUB was developed to reach troubled teens through reading and discussing books that are relevant to their lives. Funding was provided for this program by Oprah’s Angel Network.

America's Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway is a new, six-week series of public programs created by Tribeca Film Institute in partnership with the ALA Public Programs Office and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and in consultation with the Society for American Music. The programs feature documentary screenings and scholar-led discussions of twentieth-century American popular music. Successful libraries will host the series of six viewing and discussion programs that will be open to the public between January 1 and December 31, 2013. 

Also new, Astro4Girls and Their Families is a collaboration between the ALA Public Programs Office and NASA-funded Astrophysics education and public outreach. The project is designed to offer participants an opportunity to celebrate women in science, learn about the universe through hands-on activities, and empower girls to explore the role of science in life and in their careers. The nine participating libraries were chosen from libraries that had hosted the traveling exhibition “Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery.”

The ALA Public Programs Office partnered with NEH to develop the Bridging Cultures: Muslim Worlds Bookshelf. In the pilot program, six libraries from across the country hosted programs designed to help public audiences in the United States become more familiar with the people, places, history, faith and cultures of Muslims around the world, including those within the United States, through book discussion. In 2013, the program will be expanded to up to 1,000 libraries and state humanities councils.