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Santa Barbara Public Library Collecting Artifacts for “Museum of Civilization”

To celebrate Santa Barbara Reads, the Santa Barbara Public Library is creating its own Museum of Civilization – a display inspired by the plot of Station Eleven.  

In the novel, the Museum of Civilization is a collection of items from contemporary society that have become relics in the post-pandemic world. The characters collect these items to preserve the history of the world as it was (and as they hope it will become again). Station Eleven’s Museum contains everything from credit cards, passports, and cell phones to high heeled shoes and comic books. Our Museum will be filled with items that the Santa Barbara community would collect for such a display.

So, the Library is asking the community: What would you miss?

If you are stumped about what you’d like to contribute, consider Emily St. John Mandel’s answer when asked by NPR what she “would save in an apocalypse.”

“You know, I think I'd want to save a globe. Something that came up for me as I was writing this book was how incredibly local your world would become. But you know, here I am in Philadelphia this afternoon. If I lived in Philadelphia, I would have no idea what was going on. Even in rural Pennsylvania, let alone Asia, you know your world becomes so small so quickly. And I think it would be very easy to lose perspective and think that this was the entire world. So I would want a globe, just to remember that there was a world out there.”

When considering an item to donate to the Museum, please remember:

  • The Museum will be on public display during the entirety of Santa Barbara Reads, and some items will travel to other branches during this time. We cannot guarantee the safety of any item you contribute. We will make an attempt to return your items in December, but there is the possibility you will not get them back.
  • If you wish to pick up your item after the duration of Santa Barbara Reads, please ensure your name and contact info is on or with your item when you bring it to the Library.
  • Many of the items will be located in the display case at the Central Library, so consider the objects’ size when making your choice(s).
  • We would love to feature many of these objects in social media posts, so please consider sharing the story behind why you picked this item and what it means to you. You can do this either by emailing Lisa Neubert ( or leaving a letter with your item when you drop it off.

Please drop off any contributions to the Museum of Civilization at the Central Library during business hours. Items will be collected up until the end of the Kick-Off Event on November 1. Any member of the Library Staff will be happy to assist you.

Questions? Contact Lisa Neubert at or (805) 564-5605.

Contact: Lisa Neubert, Programming Librarian

Phone: 805-564-5605


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