The Norman Transcript

May 13, 2014

Norman museum recognized nationally

By David L. Boren
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Almost 225 years ago, George Washington declared in his first State of the Union, “Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness.”

Broad public access to information is crucial to our nation’s priorities of improving education, boosting economic growth and increasing global competitiveness.

Our libraries and museums are precious resources, spearheading this knowledge dissemination. Institutions exposing us to collections, content-rich services and experiences, museums and libraries are community anchors that inform and inspire us. They help us remember the past and prepare us for the future.

Norman is home to one of these shining examples, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, which has been recognized with the nation’s highest honor for libraries and museums.  

Long acknowledged as one of the treasures of our community, the museum was founded in 1899 by the Territorial Legislature of the future state of Oklahoma and located on the University of Oklahoma campus.

In 1987, the museum was designated as the state’s natural history museum and in May 2000, opened its doors to a new 198,000-square-foot facility, housing more than 10 million objects with exhibits and galleries tracing Oklahoma’s history back more than a billion years.

Educational programs inspire thousands of students on field trips each year, and public programs draw in the community for annual events.

On May 8, the Sam Noble Museum received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Given by the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, it designates the Sam Noble Museum as one of the top 10 libraries and museums in the nation.

The Institute of Museum and Library Sciences is an independent federal agency that acts as the primary source of government support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.

The Institute for Museum and Library Services supports the full range of libraries — including public, academic, research, special and tribal — and the full range of museums — including art, history, science and technology, children’s museums, historical societies, tribal museums, planetariums, botanical gardens and zoos.

This year, the Institute of Museum and Library Services celebrated the 20th anniversary of recognizing outstanding institutions with the National Medal.

The Sam Noble Museum joins the impressive list of winners that promote a love of learning and demonstrate the innovative ways our museums and libraries promote civic engagement.

Beyond access to books, art, exhibits and artifacts, these institutions provide hands-on and technology-rich learning opportunities, strong education and cultural programs, and skills development for the 21st century work force.

The diverse knowledge set and engaging experiences offered by libraries and museums prepare citizens to be full participants in their local communities and our global society.

But don’t take my — or George Washington’s — word for it. Stop in and visit the Sam Noble Museum, one of the most exemplary museums that Oklahoma, and our nation, has to offer.

David L. Boren is president of the University of Oklahoma.

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