Magazine article American Libraries

Rex's Lending Center Is a Roaring Success

Magazine article American Libraries

Rex's Lending Center Is a Roaring Success

Article excerpt

Visitors to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis are accustomed to finding a whole new world of ideas at their fingertips. Now they can extend that learning experience beyond the museum and into their own homes with Rex's Lending Center, an innovative program that integrates libraries and museums.

On Sept. 7, 1992, the opening of Rex's Lending Center heralded the first time a museum had turned the vision of combining museums and libraries into a reality. While the animated environments of museums kindle new interests, libraries effectively cultivate existing interests. Rex's Lending Center connects the inherent strengths of both.

Developed and tested in 1989 as "Gallery-To-Go," the project blended the resources of Indiana's statewide library system and the exhibitions and programs of the museum. Made possible by a $40,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the compact mini-library accompanied the special exhibit, "Space: The Next Generation," presented by the Children's Museum and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "Gallery-To-Go" reflected the exhibit's high-tech theme.

The prototype was a resounding success, and it became clear that the museum could build a new information and discovery connection linking the museum, homes, and libraries--with the potential to become a more effective integrated community learning network.

The Kellogg Foundation then awarded $1.1 milion for the permanent gallery-togo to the museum and its project partners, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis Libraries, and the Central Indiana Area Library Services Authority (CIALSA).

The new mini-library was renamed Rex's Lending Center after the museums unofficial mascot Tyrannosaurus Rex, who greets visitors at the door. An image of Rex atop a skateboard is the center's 1ogo.

Housed in the central atrium on the ground floor, the facility, with 8-foot likenesses of Rex and his cronies, is a visual presentation open to view by visitors on the upper five floors. All materials available for loan--including books, video and audio tapes, and artifacts--are on display.

At present, some 3,000 items are available for loan. Over the next two years, the collection, which is selected jointly by the library director and the curator of each museum gallery, will grow to 13,000 items. Twelve copies of each item are purchased; 10 copies circulate, and two remain as noncirculating display copies.

Making "Rexervations"

In accordance with the philosophy of having only the best materials related to the museums galleries, the collection will remain static at 1,300 titles. Presently the 10 most popular items include Goofy's Field Trip/Trains (video), Digging Up Dinosaurs (book and video), Touring Egypt (video), We're Going on a Bear Hunt Coook), Trains Coook), How Big Were the Dinosaurs? (video), The Berenstain Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone (book), Petunia (video), The Caterpillar and the Polliwog (video), and Indiana Jones Explores Ancient Egypt Coook). When all copies of any of the above titles are checked out, patrons are advised to check with their local public llbrary for copies.

While Rex's Lending Center has a display copy of every book found in the galleries throughout the museum, each gallery has, or will have, its own mini-collection of approximately 100 different materials from which to choose. All materials are chosen to enhance visitors' enjoyment and knowledge of the gallery. …

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