One of the sweeping trends that will affect public libraries in the 21st century is the convergence of cultural heritage institutions.This convergence is the manifestation of technological possibilities and the result of different ways of looking at lifelong learning. Planning for the role of libraries as cultural heritage institutions and the collaboration of libraries with museums and historical societies has philosophical and historical support in three books:
Archibald, Robert R. The New Town Square: Museums and Communities in Transition. Alta Mira Press, 2004.
Carr, David. The Promise of Cultural Institutions. Alta Mira Press, 2003.
Dilevko, Juris and Lisa Gottlieb, The Evolution of Library and Museum Partnerships: Historical Antecedents, Contemporary Manifestations, and Future Directions. Libraries Unlimited, 2004.
The many years the U.S. was not part of UNESCO,[United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization] as initiated under Reagan (1984) and carried out under Bush the First, were years in which the world made serious effort to discuss and establish policies regarding cultural heritage. The 1982 World Conference on Cultural Policies (MONDIACULT) adopted the celebrated broad definition of culture that linked culture so irrevocably to development. The World Decade for Cultural Development was 1988-1997. President William Jefferson Clinton urged Bush the Second to support the U.S. rejoining UNESCO. In 2003 the U.S. rejoined UNESCO and established the U.S. National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization is a Federal Advisory Committee to the Department of State that supports worldwide humanitarian development and values by coordinating efforts and delivering expert advice from the Federal, State and Local Governments and from Non-Governmental Organizations on issues of Education, Science, Communications and Culture.
There will be many opportunities in the years to come for U.S. librarians to work more closely with the world cultural community now that we have rejoined UNESCO.