Curation and Curiosity

Cabinet of Curiosities

The librarian’s role as curator was the topic of a TxLA conference session by Joyce Valenza. For anyone who has attended one of Joyce’s high-energy presentations, you know that you leave with your brain whirling with new ideas. This session on curation was timely because the new AASL standards feature curation:

Curate: Make meaning for oneself and others by collecting, organizing, and sharing resources of personal relevance.

Here are four curation tools that I plan to explore this summer. My goal is to curate resources for students and also guide students as curators:

Google Custom Search
Combine the power of a Google Search with the expertise of a librarian assembling the websites for students to search. The Google Custom Search box can be embedded on your library resource page.  I plan to explore further the option to register as an educational nonprofit to turn off ads on the Google Search boxes.

Symbaloo Gallery
Here is a Symbaloo that I created to begin curating resources for Copyright and Fair Use, Digital Citizenship, and Media and News Literacy.

Pearltrees
Visually organize content in grids.  Here is an example of Joyce Valenza’s Pearltree and a blog by Richard Byrne about Pearltrees (FreeTech4Teachers).

TES Teach with Blendspace
Bring together videos, photos, and documents into a visual grid that encourages exploring resources.

I have also assembled a list of suggested books that can be used to introduce our students to the idea of curation and promote its value in the research process.

Young Readers
The Amazing Collection of Joey Cornell by Candace Fleming (picture book biography)
Author Fleming dramatizes a true moment in the life of artist Joseph Cornell: as a young boy, Joey was fascinated by collecting things and he organized a special ticketed event for friends and family to view his collections.

Beatrix Potter by Alexandra Wallner (picture book biography)
This is my favorite version of Potter’s young life because it shows her fascination with exploring nature and desire to be a scientist. Unable to pursue this scientific field because she was a woman in the Victorian Period, she turned her love of nature to creating delightful drawings for the Peter Rabbit tales.

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman (picture book)
A grandfather shares his special matchboxes with his granddaughter. Each matchbox contains a small object that marks a moment in his immigrant story.

Hundred Penny Box by Sharon Bell Mathis (fiction)
A young child explores a grandmother’s collection of pennies; the year on each penny designates significant events in the grandmother’s life.

Middle School Readers
What Darwin Saw: The Journey that Changed the World by Rosalyn Schanzer (Biography) . Darwin’s natural collections and observations in his notebooks fueled his scientific theories.

The Journals of Lewis and Clark by Darlene R. Stille This historical look at the expedition of Lewis and Clark includes primary source drawings and diary entries from Lewis and Clark’s journal.

Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange by Elizabeth Partridge
Dorothea Lange’s documentation of social issues through her photos is a great example of sharing important ideas with an audience.

The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall
This fiction story is loosely based on an Outsider artist whose cast-off sculpture assemblages were exhibited at the Smithsonian. A young boy is assigned community service with this “junk man,” and the boy begins to find personal healing as he assists in gathering the pieces for the sculpture.

High School Readers
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
In this historical fiction novel, a teenage girl is assigned to community service, assisting an elderly woman in cleaning out her attic. What they discover together is a treasure trove of memories of the elderly woman’s experience as an orphan train child.

The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Journey to Freedom
by John F. Baker, Jr. As a seventh grader, Baker discovered a photo in his history textbook
that depicted slaves on the Wessyngton Plantation. The people in the photo were his
grandmother’s grandparents, and it prompted Baker to begin a life-long project of collecting oral history interviews and photographs that were later assembled as part of a special exhibit at the Tennessee History Museum.

Cabinet of Curiosities by Guillermo del Toro
Director Guillermo del Toro surrounds himself with curiosities and collections that help to inspire him in his movie projects. This book is filled with his sketches, journal entries, and collections from his estate that inspire his imaginative works.

Looking forward to hearing your ideas on how librarians can engage students’ curiosity and encourage their desire to become curators of knowledge.

Bibliography for Image
Georg Hainz Cabinet of Curiosities. Fine Art. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. quest.eb.com/search/109_111663/1/109_111663/cite.
Accessed 5 May 2018.

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