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Vol. 17, No. 11

November 2015 

 Dr. Kimberly Christen Withey consults with Michael Jampin Jones_ an elder from the Warumungu Aboriginal community in Tennant Creek_ Australia_ who initiated the original project and named the archive Mukurtu.
Mukurtu Software Preserves Indigenous Digital Heritage through Technologies of Today

Envisioned by researchers at Washington State University, Mukurtu, an online content management system geared toward indigenous cultures, has been wildly successful as free, open-source platform for communities around the world to digitize and preserve their heritage in culturally responsive ways. Read More

Focus Conference Emphasizes Role of Libraries and Museums in Communities
We recently held the IMLS Focus Conference in New Orleans where nearly 300 library and museum professionals gathered to discuss the crucial role that libraries and museums play in their communities.

In a nutshell the main take-away: Libraries and museums are more important than ever in the fabric of our society.

Using the main themes of "Community Engagement," "Engaging Learners" and "Collections and Digital Access," participants tackled issues such as how libraries and museums can provide better services to new Americans and immigrants, how our museums and libraries can harness the collective wisdom of the crowd to generate content, why we must rethink the user experience and taking a closer look at tools and resources available for libraries and museums engaged in making.

Many of you mentioned being particularly struck by a plenary session on "Community Connections during Times of Crisis." It included shared practices from Melanie Adams of the Missouri Historical Society, which sits near Ferguson, Mo., and Carla Hayden, a member of the National Museum and Library Services board who also serves as executive director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. (As a side note that panel was moderated by another NMLS board member, Luis Herrera.)  These Maryland and Missouri institutions  were both faced with crippling riots in their communities but managed to use their connections and long-built relationships within the community to help bring calm.

Plenary panel with Luis Herrera_ Melanie Adam_ and Carla Hayden.
Plenary panel with Luis Herrera, Melanie Adams and Carla Hayden.

These type of deep-rooted community connections are emerging more and more as libraries and museums innovate into full-fledged community partners and anchors that help to shepherd in major revitalizations. Perhaps the best recap of the renewed focus on those types of community connections came in the words of many of you who commented during our wrap-up:

"We are not our parents' institutions. We have an opportunity to lead the country."

"The only thing that's changed is everything. We can do this."

"By providing a place and avenue for communities to share stories, we are creating agents for social change."

"Museums and libraries have a very unique story and a very huge opportunity to leverage one another."

Ralph Smith presenting closing keynote address.
Ralph Smith presenting closing keynote address.

Ralph Smith of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading reminded us during his closing keynote that we have to think of libraries and museums as the "social glue." How very true. I am hearing these same narratives at every conference and in the museum, library and community partner gatherings that I have attended since starting at IMLS.

IMLS Focus participants listen to plenary speakers.
IMLS Focus participants listen to plenary speakers.

There is a movement to look "outside-in" with our communities to understand how the organizational assets of museums and libraries can best be used. The opportunity to build on libraries and museums as places for creating social and learning networks is tremendous.

I am very optimistic about the future of museums and libraries and the role that they will play in our communities. We have yet to identify the community-specific lenses to use to find our way there.  But after our Focus conference, I'm even more inspired by the commitment and passion that I've heard from those of you that I've met so far. And I know we will make tremendous progress together to support and shape our communities.


National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards Now Accepting Applications
The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is accepting applications for the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards. The deadline to apply is February 2, 2016, 5:00 PM PST.
Twelve award-winning programs will each receive $10,000 and an invitation to accept their award from the PCAH Honorary Chairman, First Lady Michelle Obama, at a ceremony at the White House.
After-school and out-of-school time arts and humanities programs are encouraged to apply. Completed applications will only be accepted via the online process. For more information, see
Education Coordinator Ellen Balkin and teen docent Kayla Curley receive the award from First Lady Michelle Obama for the Ogden Museum of Southern Art
Education Coordinator Ellen Balkin and teen docent Kayla Curley receive the award from First Lady Michelle Obama for the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

New Museum Data Now Available
The Institute of Museum and Library Services has released its FY 2015, Third Quarter Museum Universe Data File (MUDF). The MUDF is a list of known museums and related organizations in the United States that is maintained by IMLS's Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. The file includes basic institutional identifying information about museums and related organizations, including aquariums, arboretums, botanical gardens, art museums, children's museums, general museums, historic houses and sites, history museums, nature centers, natural history and anthropology museums, planetariums, science and technology centers, specialized museums and zoological parks. You can learn more here:  

A new national report finds that many museums and libraries are leveraging their prominent local positions to help rebuild troubled neighborhoods, driving economic, educational and social efforts that help raise standards of living. Read more


Join the Museums for All Initiative
IMLS has joined with the Association of Children's Museums (ACM) to launch a new initiative to ensure that every family and child has access to high quality museum experiences. Read more An
Education in Access
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Kim Charlson, the first woman serving as President of the American Council of the Blind, while on a site visit to Massachusetts to see how IMLS funds are being utilized to support community needs. Read More

Exotic Surfaces: Lacquer's Brittle Beauty
The pedestal table's surface was covered with what appeared to be gilded black potato chips, attached to a wooden frame imported to America from China in the early 1800's. Traveling aboard a sleek sailing ship called a clipper, these pieces enriched American merchants during the early days of the republic. Read more
Vermont's Orwell Free Library: Certified and Ready To Go!
As one of our nation's most rural states, Vermont is lucky to have many small libraries with staff who respond to our rapidly-changing world. Orwell Free Library is one such treasure. Read more
New in FY2016 Museum Grant Applications: Performance Measurement
We don't have to look very far to see a reference to performance these days. We have performance goals at work; our kids are asked to complete performance tasks on standardized tests; and we monitor our favorite athlete's performance in the most recent game. Read more
Nine Pilots Announced In New Federal Effort to Serve Disconnected Youth
Improving education, employment and other key outcomes for youth is a goal that we at IMLS and our Federal partners share with communities across America, especially for low-income youth who are disconnected from work, school, or other social supports. Read more


Edson Open Lab Meeting: Trevor Owens, Senior Program Officer; Arlington, VA, November 30 - December 2
ULC-NSLA Summer Learning Forum: Tim Carrigan, Senior Program Officer; Baltimore, MD, December 2 - 4
State Data Coordinator Annual Meeting: Michael Jerger, Chief Operating Officer, Robin Dale, Associate Deputy Director for Library Services; Matthew Birnbaum, Senior Evaluation Officer; Kim Miller, Management Analyst; and Timothy Owens, Senior Library Program Officer; Louisville, KY, December 8 - 10
IMLS Library Statistics Working Group: Robin Dale, Associate Deputy Director for Library Services;  Deanne Swann, Senior Statistician; Matthew Birnbaum, Senior Evaluation Officer; Kim Miller, Management Analyst; and Timothy Owens, Senior Library Program Officer; Louisville, KY, December 11
Coalition for Networked Information: Maura Marx, Deputy Director for Library Services; Washington, DC, December 14 - 15
America's Treasures - Saving Them for the Future Roundtable: Kathryn K. Matthew, Director; Washington, DC, December 15

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.

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