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The Public Library as an Incubator for the Arts

Posted by Editor on January 17, 2012

January 17, 2012 | 9:58 AM | By 

Arguably, those who believe a public library is simply a repository of print books haven’t been to a public library lately. Here at MindShift, we’ve been covering the ways in which the library is evolving to change the demands of digital technologies and of its patrons: libraries are becoming learning labsinnovation centers, and makerspaces.

Of course, the public library has always been a community center as much as a place to go to check out books to read, so the new extensions of the library’s service may not be so far afield from the institution’s mission to provide access to information. Even so, much of the emphasis has been on literacy — reading and writing, digital and analog — and not on other forms of creativity.

But three graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and Information Studies have launched a project that points to another important way in which libraries play a key role in their communities. The Library as Incubator Project highlights some of the ways in which libraries and local artists can work together.

I spoke with Erinn Batykefer, Laura Damon-Moore, and Christina Endres about the project.

Q. What was the inspiration for the Library as Incubator Project?

Laura Damon-Moore: The inspiration for the project came from several places. One was an article in the Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries’ magazine, written by Madison artist and curator Martha Glowacki. Martha uses library research and spaces frequently in the development of her

“We’re shortchanging an entire generation of Americans who may never spend an hour painting or writing or acting, or doing any creative endeavor as part of a formal education.”

creative work. We wanted to learn more about how other artists use libraries in their work, and how the “library experience” might be enhanced for artists. Another important piece of the inspiration for the project came up at the end of our first semester of library school. Professor (now Emerita) Louise Robbins spoke about the need for advocacy to infuse everything that we do as library students and future librarians. Lastly, the three of us have an interest in the arts anhelp engage the communities we all will be serving some day. These pieces came together over the course of about a semester to form the basis for the project as it exists today….continue reading.


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