Week 13: Culture and pop culture (Twitter Champ)

This week I was scheduled to be a Twitter champ for the #ifn614culturechat on Twitter. However, due to work commitments I was unable to join at the time, so have had to review the Storify archive and reflect on the discussion retrospectively. Reading through the archive I was interested in the responses to the first question, which posed the following:


Before I get into critiquing the question and the responses, it’s important to understand what we’re talking about. GLAM stands for the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums sectors. The GLAM sector in Australia is a diverse group of public interest organisations collecting and exhibiting cultural and environmental material. The combined collections contain over 100 million objects of which only 25% is digitised. Each of these institutions could be said to be concerned with preserving the cultural memories of their communities and society at large, so play an important role in providing access to the nation’s cultural heritage. This notion of GLAM preserving and sharing cultural knowledge was noted by @NuraFirdawsi.


The responses from quite a few of the participants identified the overlap in roles between the GLAM organisations and their need to more closely work together, and it was noted by @ChloeRPickard, in the case of State Library of Queensland (SLQ) and Queensland Museum there is already cooperation.


However, @cdel1993, noted that she works in the GLAM sector and sees minimal co-operation between the various GLAM organisations that work in the Queensland Cultural Centre.


The centre consists of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), the Queensland Museum, the State Library of Queensland (SLQ), the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). According to the artsQueensland website, ‘this collection of co-located cultural institutions on a single site is unique in Australia and rare worldwide.’ With so many GLAM institutions so close together, if what @cdel1993 has observed is true, then this suggests a lack in opportunity for these organisation to work together.

A Google search using keywords such as GLAM, cooperation, collaboration reveals some of the discourse surrounding the issues, challenges and opportunities for the GLAM sector. In a staff paper posted on the NLA website, Warwick Cathro argues,

Collaboration is not something we undertake for its own sake. Our collaborative activities should be a response to user needs, and should lead either to more content being available for users, to improved user access pathways, or to preservation of content for future users.

In the same way that libraries have gone through changes driven by shifts in digital technology, the GLAM sector has also undergone ‘profound shifts driven by a number of trends, chiefly those arising from the dramatic changes of how people access, share and engage in digital services and social media’. So, if the GLAM sector is charged with the responsibility of preserving the nation’s cultural heritage, as well as facilitating public access to it for research, education and inspiration; and for the various institutions to be better used as creative spaces or spaces for cultural research (thanks, @JasmineD_R) then better collaboration is clearly required.


I’ve been building up to a point about access that was missed in the chat, but for which I’ve run out of time, so perhaps I’ll leave with some final questions: what can GLAM do to better facilitate better access and discoverability of its various collections? How can over 100 million objects be un-siloed so that GLAM can meet its collective responsibility in facilitating research, education and inspiration of its combined collections?

7 thoughts on “Week 13: Culture and pop culture (Twitter Champ)

  1. I think 'un-siloing' is the key there, Tim. The rise of open access should, in theory, negate the 'yours/mine' ownership of collections but there still needs to be staff who liaise with other organisations to foster collaboration. I am genuinely surprised there is not more of it in South Brisbane, given how close they are in geographical proximity - I had envisaged staff popping in and out of each organization, being secondment, etc.

    Maybe the new world order needs to be 'project-based' programming, where a representative from each organisation works together to create the program and bring in the resources/abilities/facilities of their respective GLAM.

    I'd be keen!

    1. Post author

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for reading my article and replying. Open access is an interesting area. I hear a lot about the Open Access and Open Data movements from within the academic library landscape, but I'm not up on how other GLAM institutions are taking up the opportunities and meeting the challenges in this area. Do you have any non-University examples?

  2. I agree with you that before we talk about GLAM, first we need to understand that what is the meaning of GLAM. It is good that public interest organisations in Australia are playing role to preserve cultural heritage of Australia.

  3. Hi Tim,
    I actually think the idea that these organisations don't work together is mistaken - if a museum or other organisation is putting together an exhibition, it is common practice for them to consult with other organisations to borrow relevant items for the exhibition. This happens all the time and thankfully it is being made much easier for curators to find these items now with more digitisation of items and catalogues. I also saw an example when I was at an SLQ event where people could bring in items for conservation advice, some of the experts were from SLQ and some were from Queensland Museum so that their were experts with lots of different knowledge. I think it would also be common for staff at one organisation to seek advice from others when their areas of expertise differ. One thing that I thought they didn't collaborate enough on was the collection of donated items. I have seen a few example of things that have been donated to one organisation that didn't really fit in with their collection policy but were added to the collection because they were great items, when really I think it would have been more sensible to refer them to one of the other organisations where the collection policy was a closer match for the item. Overall though, I think the GLAM sector is one that is really open to collaboration - people just need to put their ideas forward and ask.

    1. Post author

      Hi Sharee,

      Thanks so much for replying and adding some positive perspective. The point you raise about digitisation of items and catalogues goes towards the point I would have liked more time to get to regarding discovery and access. With metadata initiatives like Bibframe - https://www.loc.gov/bibframe/ - collections and their catalogues can be exposed to the world.

    2. Post author

      Hi again, Sharee!

      Just attended the Liberact IV conference hosted at QUT. Sad to say, but the sentiment around collaboration among GLAM is that not enough being done on the non-libraries side of the equation. I spoke to leaders and influencers in the sector, so it was timely given my recent post. This is not to say there is any cloud over the collective futures of GLAM, but opportunity for better collaboration in providing access to collections, developing complimentary programs, and working strategically to achieve mutual objectives - all with the user needs and their respective communities in mind.

  4. Hi Tim,
    Very interesting post! I love the idea on un-siloing & increasing access to collections.
    I am also learning that copyright & privacy are also necessary for digitizing , was discussing that with Chloe on her her blog @chloepickard. You may find it interesting.
    As a scientist & a DB person i am a huge fan of metadata so appreciated the link to bibframe.


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