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    -   by George Campbell    (

If you're like most collectors, you're very proud of your mineral collection. It represents a lot of work and thought and represents some of the wonderful aspects of our planet. You probably enjoy showing your collection to others, as well. It's only natural.
For most of us, though, the opportunities to share our collections are somewhat limited. Visitors to our homes can see it, but often that's about it. Here are a group of ideas you can consider as ways to share your collection with your community. You'll increase people's appreciation for minerals, and maybe even stimulate someone to begin collecting themselves.

Share With Local Schools
The days when schools had mineral collections available for study are long gone, and that's truly sad. But, you can help introduce the children in your local schools to minerals. You can contact your school's office to find out the name of the teacher responsible for science education in that school. Contact that individual and see if there isn't a way you can help. Some possibilities include:
Set up a Display at the School. Many schools have display cases in the hallways. A simple, educational display is an excellent way to stimulate interest. A variety of specimens, well labeled, along with a few informational cards are all it takes. These display cases are always locked, so your minerals will be safe. Most often, such a display will be on exhibit for one quarter or semester.
Visit Classes. In many cases, schools are very excited when an expert in the community is willing to come and give a talk to a class. While nobody likes public speaking, you can easily plan and rehearse a talk, illustrated with actual hand specimens that can be passed around. One favorite topic is a talk about the importance of minerals in our daily lives. Virtually everything in our lives has some relationship to the mineral kingdom. Hint: If you're visiting young students, take a box of small pyrite or quartz crystals and let each student take one. They'll be thrilled. Once you've done this once, it gets easier each time.
Host a Field Trip. If your collection is displayed in a room that will hold a group, you can arrange for a class of students to visit the collection. Plan a talk that is simply a guided tour of your collection. Keep it light and humorous, and the kids will have a good time and learn too.
Create and Donate a Study Collection. If your collection can support this, you can create a basic mineral collection, using hand-sized specimens, and donate it to the school. It will need to be housed in a cabinet of some kind, of course, and well labeled, with collection numbers on the specimens keyed to actual labels. A printed guide to the collection is useful, especially if arranged in a systematic way, providing information about each specimen. Even a collection of 50 or so specimens is helpful, and science teachers can use it to supplement their lessons.

Share With Your Community
Smaller communities do not have a museum display of minerals, so there's often no opportunity for community members to be exposed to mineral specimens. There are several ways you can help.

Do a Library Exhibit. Most public libraries have locked display cabinets, complete with shelves and lighting. Check with your local librarian. Odds are the library would love to have a mineral exhibit in their case. Typically, these exhibits are in place for a month at a time. You'll need excellent labels, along with small informational posters, maps, and books on minerals for the display. You can create the labels and small posters using your computer, and use some of the books from your own shelves, so that the library's books will be available for checking out during the display.
Help Your Local Museum. Most towns have a small museum, often dedicated to the history of the local area. Often, these museums have a display case that is used for temporary exhibits. Check with the curator. The same type of exhibit as used in the library will work here, but if you can create an exhibit featuring specimens from the local region, so much the better. If you can create and donate a permanent exhibit, it's a wonderful way to support your community and expose visitors to mineral collecting.
Display Minerals at Your Place of Business. If you own your own business, consider installing a permanent display, containing a representative part of your collection. It can be large or small, but should always include informative labels and other informational material. Not only is it a good way to share your collection, but you'll be surprised at how fast people hear about it. It can even bring in new customers, no matter what your business. If you work for someone else, this may still be a valid opportunity, if your company has display space.
Other Community Possibilities. You can probably find additional ways to share your collection. As you go about the community, watch for display cases. Banks, hospitals, government buildings, Chambers of Commerce, and other public areas often have such cases, and they often hold stale, boring exhibits. An offer to install an interesting and informative exhibit often is welcome. Local clubs of all kinds are usually looking for speakers at their meetings. You could be the next speaker, sharing your favorite hobby.