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Blog #3

Hyperlinked Communities and Museums

This week I come across an amazing article by, Neda Ulaby title, Refugee Docents Help Bring A Museum’s Global Collection To Life. Ulaby, N. (2020). In line with the past two weeks of readings, this article continues to emphasize the importance of connecting communities through stories.

The article by Ulaby focuses on The Penn Museum and how it was able to address problems related to turnover (i.e. vacancies, retirements, etc.) by hiring refugees and immigrants from the Middle East, Africa and Central America. “When Ellen Owens, Director of Learning and Public Engagement at the Penn Museum, looked at her pool of docents, she saw a wonderful — and aging — group of largely white people.” Ulaby, N. (2020).  Rather than focus on a problem, Owens saw an opportunity to hire people with diverse backgrounds and ages to fill the vacant positions within the museum. Further, she found a way to connect with local communities that usually do not visit the museum and as a result, she also gave them an opportunity to share their experiences. Owens explains, “We really wanted to have the narratives of lots of different people, to bring the authentic voices of people that live in other places into the galleries of the museum.” Ulaby, N. (2020).  The museum partnered with a Philadelphia non-profit organization that works with immigrants and refugees. Through this partnership, they were able to develop the program The Global Guides, which allowed these immigrants and refugees to share their stories and experiences directly with museumgoers. The program started in 2018 and the attendance of visitors increased dramatically and a third of the visitors attend especially to take a tour with a Global Guide, Ulaby, N. (2020).

The Global Guide, program embodies the Hyperlinked library model of connecting communities to bring them together to have a conversation. When a group of people with different backgrounds get together for a common goal they are able to connect and learn from one another. In the article Serving with Love by Loida Gacia-Febo, she discusses Michael Stephen’s philosophy of connecting one’s work to one’s heart. This philosophy suggests that people should bring to their work a sense of empathy, emotional intelligence, and reflective action. Garcia-Febo, L. (2018). In my opinion, it is exactly what The Global Guides program has accomplished. The Global Guides go to work with a sense of pride in their culture; they share personal stories with the audience and are open a dialog that is meaningful.

Cameron Pollack for NPR

In connection, Garcia explains that she feels hopeful about libraries, “I have witnessed the spirit of diversity, inclusiveness, and relationship-building and how librarians are embracing those values.” Garcia-Febo, L. (2018). In order for libraries to continue on this path, they must hire and/or continue to hire diverse staff and study other institutions like The Penn Museum to model successful programs. In doing so, libraries have the opportunity to grow and evolve with the communities that they are a part of.


Garcia-Febo, L. (2018). Serving with love: Embedding equality, diversity, and inclusion in all that we do. Retrieve from https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/11/01/serving-with-love/

Ulaby, N. (2020). Refugee Docents Help Bring A Museum’s Global Collection To Life. Retrieve from https://www.npr.org/2020/02/17/795920834/refugee-docents-help-bring-a-museums-global-collection-to-life?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_term=nprnews&utm_campaign=npr


  1. @ismael What a cool example! I think it is really important that the museum did not just hire a diverse staff, but asked them to bring their own stories and selves to the museum. It is a good example that inclusion is not just appearing diverse, but also folding diverse experiences into the organization so that they are seen, heard, and felt by staff and by customers.

  2. @mechalibrarian Hi David, yes I agree with you ” It is a good example that inclusion is not just appearing diverse, but also folding diverse experiences into the organization so that they are seen, heard, and felt by staff and by customers.” You summarize what I believe to be the future of libraries a unique reflection of the communities they serve.

    Thank you for reading my blog.

  3. @ismael Bravo on your blog post. This was inspiring to read and brought a smile to my face! Public Libraries should think about adding programming similar to The Global Guide, regularly; it would be a great way for the community to mingle and meet new people.

    Keep up the good work!

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