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Charting the Landscape/Mapping New Paths: Museums, Libraries and K-12 Education

January 11, 200611 January 2006

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This American report captures key issues that emerged during workshop discussions between 70 educators, researchers, policymakers and museum and library professionals concerning museums, libraries and Kindergarten to Grade 12 education.

The report argues that “museums and libraries are fundamental components of the educational infrastructure” in a learning society. However, museums, libraries and schools have different cultures and priorities, making collaborations challenging.

In order to develop and sustain collaborations between museums, libraries and schools, the report recommends that a “community of practice” be built, including information about best practices, funding for innovative partnerships, and the development of networking tools. Other priorities include building better relationships with education stakeholders, publicizing the importance placed on learning and education in museums and libraries, encouraging training and professional development, and supporting research and evaluation that examines the impacts of museums and libraries on learning. The report highlights some examples of partnership, collaboration and learning.

The report cautions that potential partners and collaborators may need to “rethink some basic assumptions about mission, audience, resource allocation, and community”. Workshop participants identified “three key challenges to developing a learning society”, including redefining education as a lifelong endeavour, “understanding the changing nature of professional roles”, and furthering high-quality research that moves beyond anecdotal evidence.

Despite the challenges in developing a learning society, the report argues that “the future of our democracy and the strength of our economy depend on each individual’s ability to think critically, learn new skills, and adapt to a rapidly changing culture and economy”.

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