Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Hey kid! Want to buy a book?
As many of you know, I've been working for the past year+ on a book about visitor participation in museums, libraries, science centers, and art galleries. Now, after long last, the book is here!
The Participatory Museum is a practical guide to visitor participation. It's been described as "essential reading" by Elaine Heumann Gurian and Sebastian Chan, and Kathleen McLean calls it "an extraordinary resource" (more reviews here).
Why did I write this book? Over the past four years, there's been lots of discussion about the "why" of visitor participation, but in my opinion, we've been lacking a good resource on the "how." The Participatory Museum is an attempt at providing such a resource. I hope it opens up a broader conversation about the nuts and bolts of successful participatory projects.
The book is split into two parts, providing what Leslie Bedford calls "a convincing marriage of theory and practice." The first half focuses on principles of design for participation, drawing on examples from the Web, retail, and restaurants as well as cultural institutions for lessons on how to help visitors confidently and enthusiastically contribute in ways that help achieve institutional goals. The second half focuses on participation in practice, looking in detail at ways that institutions can involve visitors while staying true to their mission and staff culture.
While the book draws heavily from the Museum 2.0 blog, many case studies and design principles in the book will be new to even the most devoted blog followers. There are projects from Vietnam to Australia to the Netherlands to the US, from libraries, museums, science centers, zoos, state parks, and art centers. At 388 pages, there's a lot to explore and to help you refine your thinking and participatory project planning. It's available internationally in paperback ($25) and as PDF/ebook ($18), and I'm finishing the free online version this month.
As many of you know, this book was created via a participatory process that involved many individuals. Over 100 volunteers helped steer and refine the content, copy-edit the draft, choose the title, and write the blurb for the back. Over the next month, I'll be posting a four-part series about the participatory book development and self-publishing process. If you participated in the creation of The Participatory Museum--even if you just answered a simple question on Twitter or visited the wiki site during its creation--please consider filling out this survey to help inform these upcoming posts.
I'm also trying to make the website for the book a participatory place for continued discussion and debate about these topics. The site is still in early days, and if you have any ideas about its design, please feel free to share them either as a comment on this post or in the discussion section of the book website.
If you would like to help promote the book, please share the website with your friends and colleagues. You can write a review of the book (once you've read it, please). Blog about it. Tweet about it. I'm particularly hopeful that you might be able to help this book reach people slightly outside the museum field, like librarians, state park interpreters, and community arts organizers. If you have a favorite magazine, journal, or site that should review it, let me know. If you think I should talk about it at a particular conference, let me know. If there's a bookstore or book seller you think should offer it, well, you get the idea. I'm also trying to schedule book events around the world over the next several months - if you want me to come to your city, please fill out this form and we'll start figuring it out.