Collections and Community Engagement


Collections, Archives, Libraries, and Museums (CALM) Caucus


Benjamin Gross

Linda Hall Library

Pedro Raposo

Adler Planetarium


Pedro Raposo

Adler Planetarium


Session Abstract

At the end of 2019, Steven Shapin published an essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books that examined the so-called ""Crisis of Truth"" confronting the United States.* In this piece, he observes that many have framed the rise of climate change denial and anti-vaccination campaigns as part of a broader attack on scientific authority, one that can best be addressed by incorporating more STEM topics in classroom curricula and popular media. Shapin counters that embracing this deficit model of science communication obscures a deeper issue. ""The problem we confront,"" he argues, ""is better described not as too little science in public culture, but as too much."" After all, it has become commonplace for people to use scientific rhetoric to promote even seemingly unscientific ideas.
Museums, libraries, and archives have an important role to play in this era of ""alternative facts."" Their collections provide the concrete foundation upon which scientific and technical knowledge are built and can serve as launching points to critically examine the individuals and institutions involved in that process. In this roundtable, four members of the Collections, Archives, Libraries, and Museums (CALM) Caucus will discuss how their home institutions mobilized collections to engage new audiences, encourage deeper exploration of their holdings, and address ongoing political debates surrounding science and technology.
[* Steven Shapin, ""Is There a Crisis of Truth?"", Los Angeles Review of Books, Dec. 2, 2019, available online:]

Presenter 1

Hans Hooijmaijers

Rijksmuseum Boerhaave

Presenter 2

Peggy Kidwell

National Museum of American History

Presenter 3

Anna Toledano

Stanford University

Presenter 4

Lilla Vekerdy

Smithsonian Libraries