Promise Of Cultural Institutions

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Overview

This thought-provoking collection of essays is essential reading for anyone who cares about cultural institutions and their role in the community of learners. These institutions—often museums or libraries—have the power to profoundly alter our sense of ourselves and of the world around us, but that power carries with it obligations. David Carr challenges us to contemplate both the effects and the responsibilities, to examine carefully the nuances of these experiences. Yet a visit to a cultural institution is itself only one act in the broader activity of learning throughout our lives. Carr has much to say about the experience of learning in its best sense and thus speaks not only to lovers of cultural institutions, but also to lovers of learning everywhere.
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Editorial Reviews

Cultural Resources Management
[B]rave and compelling . . . Carr posits fundamental questions about an endangered relationship of user and institution and asserts that both parties are responsible for the future of museums, libraries, and other collections. Neglecting the deep questions that this book raises would be a mistake for any leader of a cultural institution.
— Keith Donohue, National Archives and Records Administration
Muse
David Carr steps back from his enjoyment of museums and his work in libraries to ponder why these cultural institutions are vital parts of our lives. His essays provide a mini-retreat for any museum worker wanting informed reflection on how the institution provides an enriching cognitive environment.
— Pat Sullivan, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
From The Foreword - President and C.E.O.
In our professional literature, 'how to' books far outnumber 'why to' books. This is a 'why to' book. It reminds us why museums and libraries exist and what they have in common. It explores the power that redounds to both as places where knowledge and experience intersect. It calls upon us to expand our vision of the educational and life-enhancing potential that our institutions possess. And it articulates some key principles required to achieve that potential. . . . This is also a 'big picture' book. It is about recalling why we entered our professions and the obligation we have to support the learning of those we serve. This book reminds us that we support our users best by staying focused on the driving concepts of our work and not getting mired in its details. This book makes us understand that at the start of every day we need to remember that our primary task is not to complete the items on our daily agenda. Rather our primary task is to achieve the collective vision of our institutions, and their promise to enable learning.
Harold Skramstad
Reading David Carr's essays collected in The Promise of Cultural Institutions is very much like being able to participate in a private retreat with a wise and understanding mentor. For all of us who work in or with cultural institutions, these essays offer a constant reminder of the profound importance of our work, and an insightful guide to how to carry out that work more effectively.
Wayne A. Wiegand
How refreshing! Finally a book on museums and libraries that looks at how these institutions fit into the lives of their users rather than how users fit into the lives of the institutions. And that perspective makes such a difference!
Beverly Sheppard
In David Carr's generous thinking the museum becomes a place that supports free inquiry, that is used rather than visited and that generates connections between each learner and the world. This provocative book challenges museums to become places of possibility—where knowledge is not privileged and open-ended questions are nurtured. The Promise of Cultural Institutions offers profound insight into the necessity for great cultural institutions in a civil society.
Curator, 46:4 - Stephen E. Weil
With all the 'how-to' texts that already crowd our shelves, such an insightfully written 'why-to' volume is certainly welcome. Welcome, too, is the remarkably graceful prose with which Carr has enriched the literature of our field.
Leigh S. Estabrook
David Carr's series of essays speak of the mystery, promise, and possibilities in our cultural institutions, and he calls to their users to risk being changed by those institutions. After reading The Promise of Cultural Institutions, I will never again be able to enter a library or museum or gallery without being more questioning, more mindful, more open to how the institution connects to my own unfinished life.
Cultural Resources Management - Keith Donohue
[B]rave and compelling . . . Carr posits fundamental questions about an endangered relationship of user and institution and asserts that both parties are responsible for the future of museums, libraries, and other collections. Neglecting the deep questions that this book raises would be a mistake for any leader of a cultural institution.
Muse - Pat Sullivan
David Carr steps back from his enjoyment of museums and his work in libraries to ponder why these cultural institutions are vital parts of our lives. His essays provide a mini-retreat for any museum worker wanting informed reflection on how the institution provides an enriching cognitive environment.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

David Carr
David Carr speaks and writes as an advocate for critical thinking and reflective practice in libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions. As an inquirer, educator, and consultant, he has observed, spoken, and listened in many of the strongest and most thoughtful American cultural settings. His essays, articles and reviews have appeared in Museum News, Curator, Public Libraries, and in other journals and collections. Holding a B.A. from Drew University, M.A.s from Teachers College, Columbia University and Rutgers, and a Ph.D. from Rutgers, Carr has taught librarians and other educators for thirty-five years. He currently serves on the faculty of the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where he teaches about reference tools, collection building, and the topics of these essays: information, culture, and the professional imagination.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 Foreword by G. Rollie Adams Part 2 Introduction: Promises and Institutions Chapter 3 Chapter 1: A Museum is an Open Work I see the museum as I see the library... Chapter 4 Chapter 2: Museums, Educative An educative museum is a cognitive environment... Chapter 5 Chapter 3: In the Contexts of the Possible Great cultural institutions are incendiary... Chapter 6 Chapter 4: A Community Mind Invisible actions, unspoken connections... Chapter 7 Chapter 5: The Situation that Educates It is not the educator who educates... Chapter 8 Chapter 6: A Poetics of Questions What is it? What holds the thing in our minds?... Chapter 9 Chapter 7: Museums and Public Trust Our lives embody interpretations of trust... Chapter 10 Chapter 8: Crafted Truths The child's museum is not about objects... Chapter 11 Chapter 9: The Promise of Cultural Institutions This place we are in is new... Chapter 12 Chapter 10: Ten Lessons and One Rule Learners learn from learners... Part 13 Appendix I: To Read Part 14 Appendix II: To Observe Part 15 Appendix III: Each Life Part 16 Index Part 17 About the Author
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