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.
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?