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Facilitating New Discoveries: Why I Love My Job

Alexis Caudell, director of the Mitchell Community Public Library, considers interactive technology in the 1913: A City Under Water You Are There.

I love being able to connect people with new ideas or new ways of thinking about things.

And that is just what I got to do today during a visit from Alexis Caudell, director of the Mitchell Community Public Library. The Library is planning a major renovation, and Alexis wants to create an interactive exhibit about local history. A very cool idea ... but where to begin?

Alexis called me last month to ask me that question. And while I could have sent her to some great websites and books, I was able to offer her something even better. As a Local History Partner member of IHS, the Mitchell Community Public Library can work with Local History Services to consult with other members of the IHS staff. So I set up a meeting for Alexis with a couple of people who work on IHS exhibits.

Alexis met with Barb Dirks, the IHS director of Collections Digital Resources, to talk about the ins and outs of digitizing collections, and what is involved in researching and writing one of our Destination Indiana journeys, as well as other ways to use collections images. From Luke Smith, our senior director of Information Technology, she got to hear about the pluses and minuses of working with different kinds of software and what's involved in creating interactive touchscreens. And then there was the fun discussion about using large wall spaces with Sarah Anderson, one of our graphics designers who works in our You Are There experiences, as well as many other IHS exhibits.

Barb, Luke and Sarah couldn't answer every question Alexis had or make decisions about what her interactive exhibit will ultimately look like, but they could talk about the many possibilities out there and share with her some lessons learned from their experiences. My job was just to ask questions and watch as the discovery process unfold. I can't wait to see what Alexis comes up with!


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