A group of people stand in a library lobby

Making Exhibition Connections: St. Charles City-County Library

Libraries, museums, and organizations throughout the United States and across the world host National Library of Medicine traveling exhibitions. These sites plan and present enriching and engaging programs to connect their communities with the information in the exhibitions and with the wide variety of publicly-available NLM resources. This is the fourth post in a series called “Making Exhibition Connections,” which invites host venues to share their partnerships, programs, and public engagement experiences with Circulating Now readers. Today, Alison Griffith, Branch Manager of the McClay branch of the St. Charles City-County Library District in Missouri talks about hosting Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection.

A book about Florence Nightingale, a Florence Nightingale doll, and a Florence Nightingale postage stamp
A Florence Nightingale display to complement the Pictures of Nursing exhibition, 2018

Circulating Now: Please tell us about yourself and St. Charles City-County Library District’s Middendorf-Kredell Branch. For example, what is your job? Where are you located? Who visits your library on a regular basis?

Alison Griffin: The St. Charles City-County Library in St. Charles County, MO serves a growing community of nearly 400,000 through 12 branches, outreach services, and online resources. As a public library, we serve diverse populations of all ages. Our Vision is to be a catalyst for customers to build successful lives, families, and communities. We were honored to host the Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection exhibition September 24–November 3, 2018 at the Middendorf-Kredell Branch.

Middendorf-Kredell is located in the middle of a busy municipality with many young families. It is one of three larger Regional Branches in our system and has the highest circulation in the District. At the time of the Exhibition, I was the Consumer Health and Government Documents Information Resource Manager. After moving on the manage another location, my former position has been redistributed across several departments.

CN: Why did you want to host Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection?

AG: Exhibitions are a great way to get people in the doors and engaged with parts of the branch they don’t usually visit. This was the 4th exhibition that we hosted over the past 8 years and all of them have been successful in getting new people in our doors.

We chose to host Pictures of Nursing because it was a natural tie to an existing partnership we have with a local hospital system: BJC St. Charles County. We knew we would have their support in promoting these events and we thought it would be a fun way to honor their wonderful nurses.

CN: Were you trying to connect with specific groups within your community?

AG: In addition to our hospital partnership, we connected with a new and exciting program for our county’s youth: St. Charles County Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS). The Teen Librarian and I hosted 81 students interested in health careers for tours of the branch collections, let them browse the exhibition, and ended with demonstrations of the library’s health resources.

CN: How did you engage with US National Library of Medicine health information resources while hosting Pictures of Nursing? Which resources did you highlight?

AG: Next to the exhibit, we displayed an iPad station with the NLM main page and postcard collection. We also prepared a demonstration of MedlinePlus and PubMed Central for the CAPS students, many of whom aspired to be physicians. Naturally, they were pretty excited (“not grossed out at all”) about the surgery videos on MedlinePlus!

A group of people stand in a library lobby
Students from the Center for Advanced Professional Studies, 2018

CN: Did you work with your Regional Medical Library to identify NLM resources for the exhibition or participate in a training program offered by them? If you did, how did they help? At what part of the planning process did you reach out to the RML?

AG: We did not work with our Regional Medical Library to help plan this exhibition. After learning about the funding and resource opportunities available through the RML, I wish we would have. In hindsight, we could have called on them for presentations, promotion, and more!

CN: What else would you like to share about your experience hosting this exhibition?

AG: We were able to connect with a local retired nurse who had saved her nursing memorabilia and professional items over the years. We staged these items in glass cases, researched their significance, and displayed them along with placards. We also found some local history items of interest. Adding these personal items really made the exhibition stand out and become more of a “destination” for visitors.

Portrait of a white woman

Alison Griffith is the McClay Branch Manager for the St. Charles City-County Library. She has been with the District for 6 years, formerly working as the Consumer Health and Government Documents librarian. In her spare time she is an amateur chef, yogi, and unpaid Uber driver for her two sons. 

For announcements regarding NLM Traveling Exhibitions, please join the Making Exhibition Connections listserv.


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