Libraries engage communities in a variety of ways, including through exhibitions and displays. However, librarians may not always know how to promote critical discourse if controversy arises surrounding exhibits or displays. This article reflects on one academic library’s experience hosting a controversial display during a divisive political time for the library’s parent institution, its broader urban community, and the United States as a whole. The authors contextualize the display, created by a local art collective, against the backdrop of creative activism, and consider implications for library displays and exhibits within similar environments. Rather than retreating from controversy, libraries have an opportunity to frame exhibits and displays by engaging in challenging dialogues. Professional guidelines developed by both museums and libraries are beneficial to practitioners looking toward best practices in planning, managing, and promoting exhibits and displays in the face of possible controversy.
Beene, S., & Pierard, C. (2018). RESIST: a Controversial Display and Reflections on the Academic Library’s Role in Promoting Discourse and Engagement. Urban Library Journal, 24 (1). Retrieved from https://academicworks.cuny.edu/ulj/vol24/iss1/6