Bridging Education, Research and Cultural Experience: A New Role of Exhibitions in Australian Academic Libraries

Over the last decade, Australia has seen a trend of academic libraries formalising new exhibition programs that extend beyond the traditional model of only showcasing special collections. Driven by several factors including the reduced footprint of print collections and changes to ways University campuses are used, many libraries have invested in exhibition-making people and infrastructure to activate their physical and digital spaces.

This presentation outlines a co-creation approach that some libraries have taken to exhibition development and proposes a new model for exhibitions-as-a-service in academic libraries. It draws on case studies from recent exhibitions developed at Deakin Library and UNSW Library. Through collaborative exhibition-making with academic and community partners, these exhibitions highlight the potential for academic libraries to be connectors across disciplines, and between research and education. The exhibitions discussed in this presentation showcase possible outcomes for libraries that move beyond the model of exhibitions which aim only to increase engagement with collections. This novel co-creation approach to exhibition-making instead centres on community, drawing on an academic library’s faculty-neutral position to create cultural experiences that enable cross-disciplinary exchange.

Jackson Mann

Manager, Library Exhibitions and Public Programs, Deakin University Library

Author Bio

Jackson Mann is a library leader, curator and place-maker with 10 years of experience in academic libraries. In several inaugural roles, Jackson has developed unique community engagement programs across multiple Universities nationally. As Manager, Library Exhibitions and Public Programs at Deakin University Library, Jackson has developed a new cultural and scholarly engagement program built around exhibitions and events that bridge education and research. As Curator, Special Collections and Exhibitions at University of New South Wales Library, he established the UNSW Library Exhibitions Program and led the Library’s cultural engagement, digital curation and design portfolios. Jackson has also held curatorial, digitisation and project management roles at UTS Library and the Powerhouse Museum. Jackson is passionate about creating quality library experiences across physical and digital spaces, and the potential for academic libraries to be drivers of cultural production throughout the higher education sector.