Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reflecting Communities: Some Food for Thought

A cultural heritage professional - archivist, librarian, museologist - may view her work as centered around documenting communities. A community is a group of individuals tied together by a something they have in common. They may be bound by a geographic locale, an interest, a belief, a shared heritage...Whatever it is that
unites them, the evidence of their connection is embodied in the things they create that reflect their purpose as a community. For example, if one is bound by a religious community, a shared purpose is symbolized in such things as buildings devoted to prayer, bibles, and objects of devotion. If we are bound by a local government, our community is reflected in items such as local government records and municipal buildings.

Here is some food for thought:

What is a community?

What kinds of things do people create? – from buildings to clothing, to documents, to art, to parks, to programs

What communities do not create tangible items of material culture?

How do we hand down the memories or values of our community if we do not create tangible items devoted to our purpose?

What is role of cultural heritage professional in preserving community?

What does it mean to “preserve”community?

What does it mean to “document” community? Is this the same as preserving it?

How do cultural heritage professionals know what to collect to best reflect our community?

Photo of Wadleigh Memorial Library fourth of July parade. 2005. children posed on steps of Milford Town Hall, Milford, NH

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