ALA's Touring Shows Spur Programs

By Brandehoff, Susan | American Libraries, January 1996 | Go to article overview

ALA's Touring Shows Spur Programs


Brandehoff, Susan, American Libraries


DURING MIDWINTER, SAN ANTONIO PL HOSTS ONE OF 10 TRAVELING EXHIBITS ALA HAS DEVELOPED SINCE 1983

Among the many delights San Antonio offers to ALA Midwinter Meeting visitors is a vibrant and eclectic music scene. The San Antonio Public Library adds big-band jazz to the city's tangy Latin-flavored musical mix when it hosts the ALA traveling exhibition "The Musical Genius of Duke Ellington" in its brand-new enchilada-red main library building (AL, July/Aug., p. 635) during the 1996 ALA Midwinter Meeting. A colorful multimedia exploration of the Duke's musical roots in gospel and ragtime and his prolific career, the exhibition is touring to 30 public and academic libraries in the United States through July 1997. San Antonio Public Library will display it from Jan. 11 to Feb. 22.

Like other libraries that have hosted ALA traveling exhibitions, the San Antonio Public Library is using the Ellington display as the spark for a wide variety of programs designed for library patrons from ages 2 to 102. For detailed information about the exhibition and special events, call the library at 210-207-2500.

"The Musical Genius of Duke Ellington" is one of 10 traveling exhibitions ALA has developed for libraries since 1983 in cooperation with cultural institutions such as the Newberry Library, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the New York Public Library. All ALA exhibitions have been based upon major exhibitions that feature the extensive collections of these institutions. Primary funding for the exhibition program has come from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, Time Warner Inc., and the Beneficial Management Corporation provided additional support for single exhibitions.

American diversity display premiers in January

Besides the Duke Ellington show, two other exhibitions - "The Many Realms of King Arthur" and "A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution" - are now on tour. January 1996 marks the beginning of a national library tour of "It's US," an exhibition celebrating American diversity. "The Frontier in American Culture," which looks at conflicting stories about the settling of the West told by Buffalo Bill Cody and historian Frederick Jackson Turner, is slated to begin traveling in September 1996. ALA is now accepting applications to host the exhibit.

ALA library exhibitions have proven to be major attractions in communities large and small across the nation. "For a community of 16,000 in a sparsely populated state, this was a big event, welcomed with open arms," reported the Brookings (S. Dak.) Public Library on its ALA King Arthur exhibit. Administrators of the Kemp Public Library in Wichita Falls, Texas, saw the number of library visitors rise from an average of 4,000 to 13,000 during the King Arthur exhibition period. At the other end of the scale, 232,416 people visited the King Arthur exhibition at the Houston Public Library. The most successful ALA exhibition to date has been "Seeds of Change: 500 Years of Encounter and Exchange," which drew a total of 1.8 million people to 60 libraries nationwide during 1992-1993.

Besides bringing large numbers of people into libraries, exhibitions have numerous other beneficial effects. They enhance the library's profile in the community, strengthen its role as a cultural center, and frequently help to galvanize local financial and voter support for library issues. Circulation figures for all kinds of materials frequently increase during an exhibition. To support exhibition programming, libraries have raised between $500 and $17,000 from local businesses and cultural groups and from state or regional arts and humanities councils. …

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