Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly (GPQ 9 (Spring 1989): 78--88) .Copyright 1989 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska—Lincoln.


Like communities of people, museums and libraries often carry a distinct set of values into the world. Through shared values, these cultural institutions maintain a special sense of their own identity and mission. This sense of common purpose, while valuable, is not always a good thing. A belief that "this is what we stand for" can carry an institution through adversity, but it can also blind it to new opportunities or foster a distorted sense of its own history.