This week I’ll be arguing in favour of GLAMs needing to collaborate to ensure healthy futures. For those who couldn’t make it to the chat, GLAM is an acronym for galleries, libraries, archives and museums. Some of the major organisations making up the GLAM sector in Australia are:
- Council of Australian University Libraries
- Council of Australian Archives and Records Authorities
- Museums Australia
- Council of Australasian Museum Directors
- University Art Museums Australia
Our first question in the chat – ‘libraries as cultural institutions: what role should different types of libraries have in the age of GLAM?’ – led to a discussion about how the GLAM sector didn’t collaborate as much as it should.
Strengthening the argument for collaboration is that some institutions are already complemented by smaller versions of another institution, benefitting them imensely. For example, the Queensland Museum has its own library to support researchers and staff. This library contains special collections highly relevant to the museum and its goals.
There has already been increased international discussion about collaboration in the GLAM sector in the past few years, as more institutions like archives, libraries and galleries come together. Reasons for collaboration include serving users such as researchers better, taking advantage of technological development and increased budgetary and administrative efficency.
The argument for more collaboration between GLAM institutes on the grounds it would benefit users was repeated by Dr Warwick Cathro in a 2010 speech given about TROVE. In his speech, he stated that collaboration was not done for the sake of institutions but the users it would benefit. In the case of TROVE, the collaboration lead to the digitilisation of items from different collections, so they could be all found by using one search rather than the searcher having to go through several different institutions’ databases to find all the information they required. However, Dr Cathro identified some issues hindering collaboration like the lack of suitable standards like when it came to data sharing across institutions.
The GLAM sector may need to find solutions to these problems quickly. In 2014, the CSIRO recommended that cultural institutions around Australia focus on digitising their collections for the future or face irrelevance. In 2016, the GLAM sector announced The Digital Access project. This project will focus on the digitisation of collections across Australia, with a special focus on visiting regional museums and art galleries to see how their collections can be made more available for. As a person who volunteers at a small regional museum with no online prescence for a number of reasons such as security (we are part of the Army History Unit), I am interested and eager to see where this project will lead.
I know there are many GLAM sector workers in this class and I’d love to hear your thoughts. What are your ideas on collaboration among different institutions and how it should be done? Do you have any examples to share?