Main Sections

Section 5-1

The role of librarians in supporting publicly engaged scholarship

The previous section focused on examples of publicly engaged scholarship. In this section, we look at the evolving role of libraries and librarians in providing vital support for values-based scholarly communication and indicate how librarians can develop a collaborative and values-based approach to working with publicly engaged scholars. By drawing attention to these examples, we illustrate the extent and breadth of work and argue that publicly engaged scholars and librarians are meant to be together, but need to do more to find each other.

How libraries are participating in publicly engaged scholarship

You may have noticed that libraries were key participants in some of the projects analyzed in section 3 and the examples offered for your analysis in section 4. The involvement of libraries and librarians is not unusual. Indeed, most of the recent public humanities projects funded by the US National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) include national library associations, private research libraries, and public libraries, while the United Kingdom’s Unpath’d Waters initiative unites many libraries, museums, and heritage organizations:

  • ¡Vivan las Revoluciones!: Forming More Perfect Unions Across the Americas at the Newberry Library, Chicago: A series of public programs celebrating the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States and its role in similar events in Latin American nations.
  • Let’s Talk About It: Women’s Suffrage, sponsored by American Library Association, Chicago: Resources and training for a nationwide reading and discussion program focused on the history of suffrage and its aftermath.
  • Norman Rockwell: Imagining Freedom at the Norman Rockwell Museum in partnership with the American Library Association and Tanglewood Learning Institute: Implementation of an exhibition based on Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms series at the Norman Rockwell Museum.
  • Traveling Exhibition and Public Programming at twenty libraries across the United States to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of September 11, 2001, sponsored by the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation, Inc., New York: Implementation of a panel exhibition, public programming, and librarian training for twenty libraries across the country.
  • Unpath’d Waters is a UK-based project of the Towards a National Collection (TaNC) program, bringing together multiple libraries, archives, and other heritage organizations. Focusing on retelling the UK’s maritime story and connecting to a wider range of narratives about global maritime heritage, the project brings together collections organizations and public partners and other collaborators. Collaboration, equity, and “connecting with people on their own terms” are the values associated with the project.

This OER was supported by a grant from the Scholarly Communication Notebook.

Last updated 2023-04-21.