Contemporary American society is experiencing a rapid change in technology and education. Information technology is continuously refined and improved in ways that were unimaginable even a few years ago.
Formal and informal education is increasingly pursued by all ages through the Internet, television, and public cultural programs. According to Beverly Sheppard (2000), formerly of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, we are in the midst of "dazzling new technologies, increasing social diversity and divide, and radical shifts in industry and labor markets" (p. 2). Public educational institutions must not only respond to these changes, they are well-advised to anticipate them.
Museums, libraries, and public television stations, as significant sources of public information, should be especially cognizant of and responsive to societal changes. By their very nature, these three types of nonprofit institutions are well-established educational resources devoted to public service and lifelong learning. With the similar goals of serving a vast audience, providing quality educational opportunities, and engaging learners in new and creative ways, these entities are natural partners in public service. While the partnership possibilities between libraries and museums has been recognized for several years, the same prospects for partnerships with public television are much more recent (Bartholow, 1999). Museums and libraries house enormous reserves of educational information geared towards public audiences, while public television stations are respected and well-equipped media sources for distributing such information.
As public institutions continuously struggle for funding, the sharing of resources, personnel, and ideas becomes more desirable. The unique collaborative potential among libraries, public television, and museums is virtually limitless. These institutions are concerned and involved with their local communities and schools while addressing and responding to issues of national importance. They facilitate experiences that are simultaneously personally meaningful and educational in nature. They actively reach out to a variety of public constituencies and invite them to interact with their collections. Additionally, monies are available to help fund such partnerships (Hundley ' &Targos,2000).
This article describes the process of becoming partners in public service at a large state university. I share this process from beginning to end from my perspective as a museum educator and participant, and encourage other community educators to engage in similar successful and mutually beneficial collaborations.
PIPS at Penn State
Partners in Public Service (PIPS) was initiated by members of The Pennsylvania State University community in summer 2000 as an experiment to determine the possibilities of partnerships among libraries, public television stations, and museums-institutions that traditionally operate independently of one another. A total of eight test sites from organizations around the country were selected to participate in the year-long initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and administered by Penn State. Shared goals of the initiative included learning the culture of peer organizations, serving the public, and providing information for future collaborations by other institutions. The Benton Foundation further supported the PIPS initiative at Penn State by collecting and evaluating materials, and then preparing Digital Alliances: Partnerships in Public Service, Models for Collaboration, a comprehensive report to be shared with a national audience. The planning group at Penn State included Public Broadcasting (WPSX), the College of Communications, the University Libraries, the Palmer Museum of Art, and Penn State's World Campus, in addition to representatives from The Smithsonian Institution Libraries and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Preliminary discussions dictated that the project have wideranging appeal and facilitate the acquisition of knowledge for a broad public. In later discussions of possible collaborative efforts between the various entities, three key areas emerged, fueled by the following questions:
Technology: What is the best technological vehicle for conveying information in a multi-dimensional way to the largest possible audience?
Content: What characteristics should this project embody? What content areas reasonably fulfill the expectations of all partners?
Audience: In terms of demographics, what groups comprise the potential or expected audience for this endeavor?
Using the criteria established by these questions, the planning committee at Perm State based their efforts on a project that was well on its way to fruition: an exhibition at the Palmer Museum of Art entitled History Past, History Present: The Daguerreotype Portrait in America.
Penn State is a public, land-grant university in central Pennsylvania, nestled in a valley along the Appalachian Mountains. Due to its rather remote location and its commitment to providing educational opportunities, the University built public service organizations for both the community and students on campus rather than relying on similar organizations in other areas of the state. The three major partners in the Penn State PIPS project are therefore within close physical proximity to one another.
The roots of public television formed at Penn State in the mid-1950s and slowly evolved into Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) by 1965. Today WPSX is one of more than 340 member stations affiliated . with PBS and serves one of the largest geographic regions in the nation (WPSX, 2002). In 2003, WPSX became the 100th public television station in the nation to convert to digital broadcasting (WPSX, 2003).
The Palmer Museum of Art opened in 1972 as the Museum of Art, with three exhibition galleries and no permanent collection. Over the years, it acquired over 5,500 works of art from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America; though the collection is strongest in the areas of 19th-century and contemporary American art. A name change in 1987 and expansion in the early 1990s transformed the building into the Palmer Museum of Art, complete with additional gallery space, an auditorium, and a sculpture garden (Palmer Museum of Art, 1997). In 2002, the museum completed a second renovation of the original 1972 building in order to establish itself as a research center for American art.
University Libraries began as a collection of 1,500 volumes originally housed in Old Main. In 1904, the library moved into a building donated by Andrew Carnegie, which was filled to capacity by 1940. Pattee Library, built from 1937 to 1940, incorporated some 150,000 books contained in previous campus libraries and eventually grew to hold more than four million volumes. It underwent several renovations and additions, most recently in the form of the Paterno Library addition, which opened in 2000. More than 120,000 volumes are added to the collection each year (University Libraries, 2000).
History Past, History Present raised a number of interesting issues that invited further research and investigation. The exhibition presented a wide variety of topics ripe for contemplation, including 19th-century technology, history, social issues, culture, leadership, and their relationships to contemporary society.
The first section of the exhibition included an introduction to MexicanAmerican War participant Colonel James Duncan and the variety of factors that were considered as the museum decided to purchase and display this particular daguerreotype (Figure 1), including the condition and unique qualities of the daguerreotype, the notoriety of the sitter, and the importance of the photographer. A second gallery highlighted Mathew Brady's body of work, including his practice of capturing the images of famous Americans and displaying them in his New York studio for all to see. The third gallery highlighted the MexicanAmerican War (1846-1848), which resulted in the annexation of California and New Mexico as well as the purchase of Texas by the United States government.
The fourth exhibition area explained the uniqueness of inscribed daguerreotypes and displayed several rare examples wherein the surface of the silver-covered daguerreotype plate was · etched with a stylus before being covered with glass. Only 48 examples of inscribed daguerreotypes are known to exist, including the museum's image by Mathew Brady. The next two exhibition areas highlighted the materials and the scientific process involved in creating a daguerreotype, from the "head clamp" used to keep the sitters still while capturing the image, to the pigments used to hand-color a daguerreotype plate. Visitors peeked through a camera lens at a mannequin dressed in period clothing and saw what a daguerreian photographer might have seen. The last two gallery areas contained a working contemporary photo booth, which provided a contrast between the process of photography then and now, and an informational section containing books and the files created in researching the exhibition.
With the content, audience, and technology vehicles established, the partners began creating an interactive, educational website. Eventually, the collaboration evolved into two working committees: educational content and web design.
The Website: http://www.pips.psu.edu
The educational component represents a convergence of the interests and expertise of each of the three public institutions. The committee was composed largely of professionals charged with providing opportunities for education and critical thinking at many age levels. Participants included a producer/writer, producer/director for continuing and distance education, and a webmaster from WPSX; a museum educator from the Palmer Museum of Art; and an education librarian with the University Libraries who is also the director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Their varied backgrounds proved to be extremely helpful. These individuals brainstormed and discussed content and presentation for the site and gave their ideas to the webmaster for feedback with respect to their technical feasibility. As their discussion progressed, it became clear that the themes of the exhibition were particularly appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students and general audiences. The committee felt that the site would offer art educators and general education teachers an opportunity to visit an easily accessible virtual exhibition and to discuss daguerreotypes while providing historical content and context related to the subjects in those images.
The World Wide Web seemed the most feasible vehicle for the project as a highly accessible mode of technology. Virtually all K-12 schools and universities, public libraries, and a great number of private homes have access to the Internet (American Library Association, 2003; U.S. Department of Commerce, et al., 2000). The committee hoped to provide information in a self-paced and interactive manner that would foster the imagination and learning for audiences ranging from young students to senior citizens. The goals for the site parallel a recent description of lifelong learning: It "should equip one to understand issues, learn new skills, exercise choice, and make important personal judgments. ...It should be within the reach of everyone. It is by nature learner-centered, personalized, inquiry-driven, and activity-based" (Sheppard, 2000, pp. 5 & 8).
The site consists of five learning resources in addition to a virtual view of the exhibition.
1. Developing History. This is an extended lesson plan appropriate for 5th- to 8th-grade students that includes discussion topics, a class photography project, a curatorial exercise using photos from the class project, and links to other daguerreotype portrait sites. Students are encouraged to visit the museum with their classes as the final component of the lesson.
2. Decades Chronology for 18Ws-1860s. This time period covers the principal years for the production of daguerreotypes and provided both educators and learners with a context for every day life in the mid-19th century. This resource features images of notable historical events, people, and literature; inventions; and links to other sites of interest.
3. Illustrious Americans. This section presents a portrait and biography of nearly all of the 107 "Illustrious Americans" whom Mathew Brady photographed at his New York City studio. Patrons from near and far came to his studio to view and admire these images. Later, lithographs based on Brady's work adorned the walls of the homes of Americans who admired these public figures. Learners are invited to consider the professions and accomplishments that the public considered important in the mid-1800s.
4. More Than Meets the Eye. This is an exercise in analyzing the content of portrait daguerreotypes to discover the subtle messages conveyed to the viewer. Images from the exhibition serve as exemplars, followed by relevant cultural and historical information. When used in an educational context, this section provides an example for looking at photographs of all kinds.
5. The Making of a Daguerreotype. This resource shows a step-by-step description of the daguerreotype photographie process, from preparation to finishing the plate. The text, adapted from the Getty Museum, is complemented by illustrations from an 1888 version of Scientific American. The committee felt that this resource was an important educational tool because the daguerreotype process is complicated and not widely understood.
The contents of the site are purposefully varied and somewhat broad, yet all provide context on central issues raised by the exhibition.
In order to publicize the site and encourage use of the lesson plan, informational letters were mailed to the administrators of school districts in upper and central Pennsylvania served by WPSX Public Broadcasting. The Developing History lesson invited teachers and students to investigate the imagery and function of daguerreotype images, make contemporary connections through discussion, and take photographs of significant people and places in their hometown. Teachers sent completed Developing History projects back to Penn State, and included pictures and accompanying "labels" for each image. After being displayed at the 2001 "Children's Literature Matters" conference at Penn State, the images were scanned and posted as additions to the "Learning Resources" section under "Lesson I: Developing History." Asked to provide a window to their world just as Mathew Brady did before them, students revealed the people and places that shaped their own history. With images as diverse as the parking lot in front of the local Wal-Mart (see Figure 2) and a speeding train passing through a once-bustling railroad town (see Figure 3), their work demonstrates an understanding of the assignment and is more importantly a poignant reflection of the world as seen by these students. Notably, while the lesson plan provided teachers and students throughout the region an opportunity to participate in this partnership, the submissions received and posted on the site are from more rural locations in Pennsylvania, indicating the particular usefulness of the site for audiences who cannot easily travel to the museum.
Representatives from each of the eight sites participating in the PIPS initiative and staff members of IMLS met following implementation of the projects. In addition to highlighting each very different project idea, site representatives openly discussed the challenges and rewards of their particular partnerships. Not surprisingly, each project seemed to face many of the same obstacles, among which included:
* A sense of competing for the same resources and audiences.
* A lack of clear communication at various levels.
* Misunderstanding the common goals of the project.
* Neglecting to appoint one main facilitator and give that person the authority to make decisions.
Despite these pitfalls, each site felt a sense of accomplishment and pride due to the positive aspects of their experience, such as:
* Being part of a group that shares limited resources, enriches programming, and explores opportunities for new, creative collaborations.
* Developing relationships with colleagues in partner institutions that are invaluable as information resources, support systems, and ideas.
* Serving the community in a broader, more holistic way.
* Creating a quality learning resource that lives on in the website or other media after the exhibition and focus of the project is long gone.
* Learning about the structure, staff, and institutional culture of other public-service organizations.
* Expanding horizons in terms of future collaborations.
Suggestions for Implementation
Education professionals can facilitate the partnership process by keeping other institutions informed of scheduled activities or exhibitions, actively seeking to enhance each other's programming, and making a concerted effort to meet and communicate with peers and other interested parties in local cultural organizations. If, as a group, such partnerships clearly define the goals and expectations of their project from the point-of-view of each partner, determine a firm timeline of events, and create a method of communication that provides frequent progress updates to each participant, the seeds for a long-standing relationship with other public institutions in their area will have been sown. Most importantly, these partnerships will serve both teachers and students who otherwise might not have access to the resources.
Museums, libraries, and public television stations are responsible not only for developing appreciation and knowledge about their collections and programming with local audiences, but also anticipating their needs and acting accordingly. Collaborative outreach initiatives such as the PIPS project at Penn State allow each institution to utilize and develop its own strengths while branching out to create new, innovative connections that benefit abroad audience of learners.
Asked to provide a window to their world just as Mathew Brady did before them, students revealed the people and places that shaped their own history.
Wal-Mart Super Center
Central Cambria Middle School
Mrs. Howard's 8th Grade Class
Ebensburg, Pennsylvania 2001
This picture shows our local Wal-Mart Supercenter with two girls from my school in front of it. We chose this picture because Wal-Mart is very important to a lot of people in our community. It is a big part of our economy, employing around 350 people. This picture also shows the safety of our community with the girls in the parking lot having fun. This is not only a Wal-Mart, but also a vision-center, pharmacy, and photo-development center. This photo shows a very important part of my community, and the safety of my community.
The Allegheny Portage Railroad: The Tracks of Lilly
Penn Cambria Intermediate School
Karen Jones and Heather Letcher's 5th Grade Class
Lilly, Pennsylvania 2001
Lilly was always popular for its trains even back in the 187Os. Trains came by Lilly-they came first in the middle of the 19th century. It was then that the Portage Railroad started to be built. It took over three years to complete the Portage Railroad. The Portage Railroad was built with incline planes. Lilly was Plane 4.
Eight pairs of tracks once ran through Lilly called Pennsy's Mainline because this was one of the deepest cuts of the Mainline and the hills behind were owned by a Pennsy. Pennsy's Mainline was the busiest cut of the railroad in Pennsylvania.
One day in Lilly some trees fell on the tracks. They say there was chaos that day. Trains stopped and it took four hours to clear the trees and the chaos was over.
Since this was when the steam engines were the only type of train available, the people of Lilly looked with awe and surprise when those diesel engines came speeding down Pennsy's Mainline. Soon the steam engines vanished. No more steam in the sky, just smoke, no more honking the horn at the children because the engineer wouldn't see them, especially no more catching a free ride on the slow steam engines.
In the 190Os the trains stopped coming down the Pennsy's Mainline because Pennsy's Mainline was taken out. all the people said good-bye and remembered the memories they had on the Pennsy's Mainline.
Today there are only three pairs of tracks in Lilly. Pennsy's hills aren't there anymore just houses and streets. No more children playing around the tracks, chasing the trains, or laughing at the trains or engineers. all this once went on in my small town named Lilly.
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The author sincerely thanks fellow Penn State PIPsters Kate Domico, Steven Herb, Betsy Hutton, Corey Johnston, and Katie O'Toole.
Dana Carlisle Kletchka is the museum educator at the Palmer Museum of Art and an affiliate instructor of art education at The Pennsylvania State University. E-mail: dcklO@psu.edu…