Special Collections Exhibitions: How They Pay Dividends for Your Library

Michael L. Taylor


A successful library exhibition is usually seen as one that attracts large numbers of visitors and improves their knowledge of a topic. The ways that exhibitions benefit library staff, library collections, and library operations are much less frequently considered. Though secondary, these internal outcomes are an important part of how libraries profit from exhibitions, in the same way that stock dividends supply a substantial percentage of overall investment returns. This essay views exhibition curatorship as a form of professional and organizational development and calls attention to how it helps librarians develop skills, knowledge, resources, and relationships that enhance library services and staff careers. Librarians at small- and medium-sized institutions without professionally trained exhibitions staff are the target audience, but the perspectives outlined here are broadly relevant.

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