After years of working in public libraries, I find I have to adjust my ideas of programming and outreach to work for a museum library and archives. I’m excited that this month, in addition to the tedium of inventory and the pleasure of researcher visits, the Bartlett Library and Archives of the Museum of International Folk Art has a couple of good new programs coming up.
First is a group of teen and tween students coming to do library and archival research on works and artists in our current Gallery of Conscience exhibit Between Two Worlds. The Gallery of Conscience is one of the International Sites of Conscience . Between Two Worlds explores questions related to immigration, and the ideas of home, belonging, and place, through the lens of folk arts and the experiences and creations of folk artists. I am looking forward to working with these students.
Next up is a teacher in-service related to the permanent exhibit Multiple Visions, and its creator/designer/collector, Alexander Girard. The Museum’s Education staff puts together a wonderful in-service each year, but this is the first year in which the Library and Archives has been invited to participate. We are pulling together several elements from the Girard archive collection and using them to talk about differences between libraries and archives, the role of archives in a museum, and how much one can learn from examining not just the content of an archival collection, but the unique way the originator of that collection (in this case, Girard) chose to organize information.
When I arrived my position had been vacant for a long while, and I felt the library had been sadly marginalized because of that. It is great to feel it becoming part of the whole life and fabric of the museum again.