I think there are many ways to address this year’s theme of “getting outside” to where users are. The one I want to talk about is collaboration among cultural organizations. In particular, I’d like to talk collaborations with other LAMs that significantly scale up the amount and integration of cultural content in the online realm so users will encounter it more frequently when the go here… ( click )
After all, this is where most information discovery begins. (Very few of us start a search at an institutional Web site these days. ) Google and other search engines are the starting points because they offer the closest thing we have to an integrated search across all relevant resources in the information space. And that’s what users want. They don’t want to have to search across many different sites. In addition to being the first step towards information discovery, search engines also have profoundly shaped users’ expectations about information . E.g., Users expect to find information on the Internet. (If it is not there, it may as well not exist.) Users don’t really care where this information comes from (I.e., On the Internet, nobody cares if you are a library, archive or museum. At the initial stage of information discovery, these distinctions are totally irrelevant.) (And once they find what they are looking for..), users want to engage with the information in online environments. They want to take your collections and content and create mash-ups with it, post it on their Facebook page, tag it according to their categories, and tell *you* - the content provider -- what they know or how they feel about your content. (ex: Flickr Commons - LC et al. experiences) So this rather modest, unassuming interface that we see here is deceptive -- it has brought about cataclysmic change not only in the nature of information discovery but also in societal expectations about information itself. For these reasons it has become a driving force in the cultural heritage world - every cultural institution is clamoring to get their collections online in order to make them accessible in an environment where search engines can find them and pass them along to worldwide audiences. But the ideal of integrated content - as reflected by Google and other search engines - is not really new; in fact, its origins may be rooted in a centuries old model…. ( CLICK)
And that model is the old “cabinets of curiosities” (wunderkammers) -- these encyclopedic assemblages of collections did not distinguish materials by categories as we do.. They contained, for example, library-like books next to museum-like paintings, [ CLICK ] archive-like manuscripts as well as [ CLICK ] museum-like objects. [ CLICK ] These early collections, such as the German cabinet from the 17 th century shown here [ CLICK ] , represent a curiosity about the world that was satisfied by collecting natural and cultural products in a way that did not differentiate by material type. The goal of the gentleman scholars who created these assemblages was to unite, admire, and study these materials under one roof – however, access to these materials remained the exclusive and expensive pleasure of a very small leisure class. It was not democratic ( CLICK ) , certainly not very economical, but it was more integrated than natural and cultural collections are today. The cabinets of curiosities assembled in the 17 th and 18 th centuries provided the seed collections for modern libraries, archives and museums. With the rise of democracy and the establishment of modern nation states in the 19 th and 20 th centuries, new ideas emerged about how cultural and natural materials (and their information) should be collected, managed and shared. ( CLICK )
[ CLICK ] As a result, collections stratify. Each type of material begets its own domain where it is now housed, managed and made accessible in distinct ways. Books become the purview of libraries, papers and manuscripts become the purview of archives, and objects and specimens from nature fall under the care of museums. These new institutions provide an economic solution for managing and safekeeping the massive amounts of cultural and scientific materials that we collect in our modern society. To the citizens of modern societies, these institutions allow greater access than did the Wunderkammers. [ CLICK ] So, in this regard, institutions are more democratic in that more people have access to the collections, they’re more economical, but they’re much less integrated collections are separated by material type.
But now we have an opportunity to come full circle - it possible once again to allow for the assemblage of materials that was the purview of thte Wunderkammer: which was to have materials at one’s fingertips - via the Internet. [ CLICK ] What we are seeing is that organizations that manage a diversity of collections (such as universities) are starting to think about how they can provide a more integrated experience for their users. The University of Aberdeen, for example, has administratively integrated special libraries and archives as well as the collections of the Marischal Museum into a “Historic Collections” department. And they have tried to replicate this integration in the online information environment - the arguably most integrated environment there is now.. ( CLICK )
But have they been successful? When you ( click) through their site you are presented not with the single search box that lets you search across all these collections, but instead you are presented with a series of links that, when selected ( CLICK ), present a bewildering array of separate screens or interfaces that search each collection type. What we see here is that the ideal of an integrated search - as personified by the single search box - comes up against the institutional divisions that exist between libraries, archives and museums. (Not just Aberdeen - this is pervasive) Cultural institutions are taking their physical model and replicating them virtually, i.e, they are remaking their physical silos in a virtual space. We are still wedded to our institutional divisions - they have been the prevailing model for the last two centuries, but they may not be the best model for serving users in the online environment. This past September, RLG Programs, a division of OCLC, published the results of a project they began in 2007 to see if there were ways to break down the L-A-M barriers that are impeding our ability to get cultural materials online in an integrated fashion. The goal of the project was to get these institutions to collaborate around their common functions-- to get L-A-Ms to “go outside” their institutional silos and work with each other to help position them in such a way that they all could “get inside” into the online information space more effectively than they currently had been doing.
I worked on this project as a consultant, and with my RLG colleagues Gunter Waibel and Ricky Erway, published the results this past September in a report entitled “Beyond the Silos of the LAMs”. ( CLICK ) As the title implies we wanted to move beyond the often-mentioned silos of LAM resources because they divide content into piecemeal offerings instead of integrating it in ways users want it. For the next few minutes I want to talk about this project and discuss how its results fit into this conference’s theme of “Let’s Go Outside”.
We began the project with a few assumptions. ( Click ) The commonalities: LAMs have collections which all have specific needs that are met by certain functions. E.g., All LAMs need to catalog, preserve and make their collections accessible. We assumed that some of the functions LAMs undertake to fulfill those needs may be overlapping. And if they are overlapping, perhaps they could be integrated. 2. ( Click ) We assumed that LAMs who were part of the same organizational structure were most predisposed to collaborating on a level that was truly transformational. LAMs that are a part of a larger organization are affected by a powerful underlying influence: their parent institution binds them together with a mission and purpose that helps unite and focus their individual interests 3. ( Click ) Third, we assumed that the Online world as driver: Again and again we witness that users are ignoring resources that are not indexed by Google and other search engines. We felt that this very real concern was a key motivating factor in getting L-A-Ms to cross their domains and collaborate in ways that would increase access to all cultural heritage collections. 4. (Click) Finally, we felt there has been enough talk about distinctions, opportunities and potentials among LAMs. The time was ripe for some concrete actions.
So, in going forward, we defined the following goals…
Our preliminary research led us to formulate a model we called the “Collaboration Continuum” The first part of the Continuum is contact , when groups first meet to open up a dialog and explore commonalities in activities and needs. It is a “get to know you” step that leads to the development of interpersonal relationships and builds the trust needed to move further on the Continuum to the next point - . Cooperation . At this stage, groups agree to work informally on an activity or effort that offers a small, yet tangible, benefit. Often this benefit is nothing more than sharing information or undertaking an activity on behalf of the other partners. When cooperative activities move beyond a stage where they can be undertaken on an “as needed” basis, you move into the Coordination stage. Here a framework is required to organize efforts and ensure that everyone in the group understands who does what, when, and where. More formal efforts such as keeping joint calendars, meeting agendas and recording of meeting minutes are brought in at this stage to keep things more organized. Cooperation and coordination rely on informal or formal agreements between groups to achieve a common end. The next point on the continuum, collaboration , moves beyond agreements. It’s a “…process of shared creation: two or more [groups]...interacting to create a shared understanding that none had previously possessed or could have come to on their own. In the process, it transforms the collaborating parties. The endpoint of the collaboration continuum is convergence , a state in which collaboration around a specific function or idea has become so extensive, engrained, and assumed that it is no longer recognized by others as a collaborative undertaking. (ex: water) Breakpoint: On the Continuum there is an important behavioral “break point” right here: ( Click ) The behaviors in cooperation and coordination are additive ( Click )– they don’t change your behavior, they just add something that’s nice-to-have, but is not essential. An example might be LAMs working together to lend items to one another for exhibitions collaboration and convergence are transformative ( Click )– they change behaviors, processes and organizational structures, and lead to a fundamental interconnectedness and interdependence among the partners. An example of such a collaboration might be jointly investing in a trusted digital repository - this would change behaviors, activities and create deep interconnections /interdependence among partners. When RLG looked at collaborations that had already taken place among LAMs, it seemed that most were “struck” in the early (left hand) area of the continuum. Collaborations at this end of the continuum tend to be “one shot” deals, not long=term sustainable efforts that lead to lasting changes. The RLG LAM project wanted to see what was needed to move LAMs collaborations from the left side of the continuum towards the right. ( Click )
To do this, we decided to pursue a qualitative methodology that included…. ( Click)
I want to focus on the workshops, because it was here that we elicited the most substantive insights about LAM collaborations. RLG put out a participation call to its members and selected these 5 institutions from among those who expressed interest. All of them met a set of criteria (LAMs under one parental roof; availability, onsite leader to champion and guide effort; were further along the collaboration continuum than most peer institutions, so their staff would likely possess the experience and insights that could help clarify the collaborative process ..) The workshops all followed the same structure, and were a bit of an experiment with a two-fold purpose: to elicit information about the collaborative process and to help develop collaborative projects (i.e., exploratory and out-come oriented).
At the start of the workshops we asked participants to articulate a vision of an ideal information environment, free of obstacles and constraints. These were some of the concepts that frequently emerged from these discussions. The participants often started by identifying ways to improve internal workflow and processes, but quickly transitioned to a user point of view. Even the internally focused visions were promoted as a springboard for being able to better serve users.
Based on the vision that emerged at each workshop site, the participants went on to create lists of projects that would move them closer to that vision. From those lists (and each site had many project ideas on their lists), each campus selected one to three projects for immediate attention. These are just some of the projects that were developed…. I’ll only describe them briefly to give you some flavor of the types of concrete collaborations that emerged. (More details are available in the Silos report referenced earlier.) They all moved LAMS loser to creating collaborative systems and structures that, if successful, wil lead to convergence of functions and environments more aligned with user expectations. Development of a comprehensive digitization and access program for unencumbered photographic collections across the institution . This effort significantly scales up the digitization of assets by addressing a large segment of holdings currently in analog formats, many of which are at risk of disintegrating. The project appeals to the L-A-Ms at this institution because it addresses a collection type that is exists in all their holdings and covers cross-disciplinary subject themes that appeal to many audiences. Creation of a “Federation of Collections . ” The institution developing this collaboration already had made inroads in getting collections across campus online -- they had received major funding from a foundation to do this. But as the funding was coming to an end, they faced the issue of sustainability: how could they keep their efforts going for the long-term? They proposed the formation of this new entity - the “Federation of Collections” to serve as an campus oversight and advocacy group to help create a sustainable environment for their work so they can increase access to and use of collections by users. Exploration of a federated search model . The University who proposed this collaboration will undertake a systematic analysis of its current federated search efforts and explore models that offer different approaches to the problem of cross collection searching (e.g., metasearch, harvesting, combined approaches) Creation of a single backend to support all digital management . The site that proposed this collaboration were concerned about ensuring that all their digital assets on campus remain viable for the long-term. To address this challenge, they proposed a central store where digital products are held, maintained, and made available to the systems used by their users (researchers, students, and staff). The question now remains ( CLICK ): will these and other LAM collaborations survive? Can the efforts put into these projects be sustained? That will depend on a number of factors.
Information that emerged from the workshops and from discussions with other LAMs suggest that there are no hard and fast rules for ensuring success in LAM collaborations. However, there are a confluence of circumstances that make it more likely, or unlikely, for collaborations to flourish. We call these circumstances “collaboration catalysts”. These are the ones that emerged most frequently in this project. Some are are obvious, for example, you need resources (IT, $$ and staff). I’d like to briefly talk about others that are less obvious or that have special aspects to them…
Vision - Collaborations often start with the question “what can we do to collaborate”. This is the wrong question: it leads to concrete suggestions, which quickly are abandoned when real or perceived obstacles are raised that make the idea seem impossible to accomplish. Instead, we found that for a collaborative idea to succeed, it has to be embedded in an overarching vision all participants share which makes it worth the effort to overcome the inevitable obstacles that arise in all collaborations. By focusing on a broad, shared vision you shine a light on all that is to be gained in working together, while also ensuring that any concrete ideas are held up and evaluated against the greater good of this vision
Mandate (demand for or strong message about a change that needs to occur) - can be expressly conveyed through strategic plans or high-level directives—as well as less formal modes of encouragement. They are important in that they can kindle and direct staff enthusiasm for collaboration. This statement seen here - presented by a very senior official at one of the participating LAM workshop sites, is an example of a “soft” mandate - sentiments of support that make it very clear to all those involved that their collaborative efforts are encouraged and will have the support of senior administrators.
Incentives - reward structures that support collaborative efforts with tangible benefits such as promotion, monetary incentives and public recognition of collaborative work. We found among the sites that there are, in fact, disincentives to collaboration. L-A-Ms are evaluated by their individual production. No structures for acknowledging or evaluating collaborative efforts.
Mooring - Many collaborations are run voluntarily - that is wonderful, but not sustainable. The long-term sustainability of LAM collaborations depends on their placement within an organizational structure. Collaborations thrive and survive when they have an administrative mooring or home base from which they can conduct operations, communicate with others and incorporate their efforts into the broader mission of their institution. If they are “free-floating” and untethered to a dept., unit, program or some other home base, they drift.
Flexibility - Professional flexibility is a distinct advantage. LAM professionals who understand issues surrounding different types of collections and collecting institutions, and who are not rigidly wedded to their own professional traditions, bring an open-mindedness that allows them to embrace ideas from other professions in the interests of the collaboration.
The RLG LAM collaboration project was an initial exploration into the qualitative aspects of collaboration AND an experiment in fostering collaborations that would go over that “divide” in the Collaboration Continuum”. This area remains ripe for a lot more research - here are some “next steps” I would personally like to see….. - ( CLICK ) Longitudinal studies of 5 workshop sites - we only did a 3 month follow-up and for most organizations things were still on track but this is too short of a time lapse to see or monitor progress (or lack thereof) - ( CLICK ) LAMs “in the wild” - LAMs not located in same parent organization. Can sustainable collaborations occur among so called “standalone LAMs” (e.g., Rijksmuseum, LC, National Archives) who have no parent institution to bind them with a common mission or sense of purpose? Would the catalysts we identified play out in this scenario? Are certain catalysts more important than others? Are there different catalysts?) - (CLICK) Comparative studies (sciences and academic humanities in particular) might yield intriguing new aspects. For example, in the sciences, studies of several hundred international and national scientific collaborations have yielded the following insights: - Collaborations organized around the sharing of data or tools are easier to accomplish than are those organized around the sharing of knowledge - Collaboration involving aggregation of resources are easier to develop than projects involving co-creation of resources. - That for virtual collaborations (where collaborators are not physically co-located near one another) success is strongly tied to the nature of the work. If the work is easily divided into components, rather than &quot;tightly coupled” or intricately interwoven ,it will be more successful. It would be interesting to explore these aspects in the context of LAM collaborations to see if these same considerations hold true… Olson, Judith S., et.al., “What makes for success in science and engineering collaboratories?,” (September 8, 2005): http://www-unix.mcs.anl.gov/fl/flevents/wace/wace2005/papers/olson.pdf Bos, Nathan, et al. , “From Shared Databases to Communities of Practice: A Taxonomy of Collaboratories,” (2007), http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/issue2/bos.html.
So how does all this information about collaboration relate to the theme of going outside??? Collaboration is a powerful model for getting you outside. Let me step back for a second…. Cultural heritage institutions are still here ( click ) and here ( click ), but our users/audiences are here ( Click ) - on the various social networks and spaces where they find information, create new knowledge and socialize. While some institutions are trying to “go outside” and put their content where users are (e.g., by adding links to Wikipedia pages or placing images on Flickr), these efforts are exploratory and haven’t altered the fundamental operating strategy for cultural institutions- which is to focus on the primacy of their Web sites and making their collections accessible from within that narrow context... So on the one hand, you have a vision of seamless collections access and community engagement which the cultural heritage community still envision will take place on local Web sites. And on the other hand, you have the reality that there has been a radical shift in online user behavior where access and engagement now occurs at a broader network level. (not the Web site) We have to address this disconnect or risk becoming irrelevant in the online space: users won’t be thinking about us or our resources if they can’t find our content in Google and other search engines. Cross-domain collaboration (among libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural organizations) offers one avenue for action. It forces you to go outside your institutional box, to forge new relationships around a shared vision, and to create opportunities that serve institutions and users in ways that cannot be done singly. You can only go so far on your own. You certainly can put your information where users are: on social networks and other Web 2.0 environments. But that won’t be enough and it won’t be sustainable. (imagine trying to situate yourself at all these sites….) It also is does not maximize your investment. Ken Hamma, recently retired director of digital policy and initiatives at the J. Paul Getty Trust has said “ every time we assert our desire to be a gatekeeper, we disrupt the network, we diminish the return we might realize on the investment in being digital.” In other words, cultural institutions are investing enormous amounts in going digital. Making this digital production available only in a singular fashion - through your Website or by piecemeal efforts at insinuating your collections in Web 2.0 spaces - is not realizing the best return on your investment, and I will add, is not meeting the goal of serving users in the way they expect to be served.
So, in going outside, I urge you to do so not only on your own, but with others, through collaborative endeavors that seek to maximize your investment and meet the broadest range of user needs.. Admittedly, this isn’t easy to do. A lot of factors have to be in place for collaborations to succeed - such as the catalysts I spoke of earlier. And we carry the baggage of two centuries of entrenched traditions that see L-A-Ms as distinctly different entities. ( Click ) Ken Soehner of the Metropolitan Museum of Art compared true collaboration as “akin to letting go of one trapeze in mid air before a new one swings into view.” It requires a leap of faith. But it devises a new vision for a new way of doing things: the sum becomes greater than its parts. At the beginning of this presentation I spoke about how LAMs emerged from the assemblages of the early Cabinets of Curiosity ,and suggested that this occurred largely because of the increase of information - and an increase in democratic access to information - that arose with the development of modern nation states. I think we are facing another critical turning point in LAM evolution. And information, as well as an increase in democratic access to this information, is again at the core of this transition. But it’s not nation states that are prompting this change this time. Now it is the growth and development of the online environment. And like the shift that took place earlier, as Cabinets of Curiosity evolved into the L-A-Ms of today, another shift needs to take place to adapt to the current realities. Today and tomorrow, as you participate in workshops, listen to conference sessions, and discuss ideas with your colleagues on how to “go outside” your current structures, consider the larger collaborative vision you share with other cultural institutions. You all want to make your information readily available and you want to engage users. As the RLG project illustrates, doing so in a collaborative fashion rather than as an individual institutions may help you move cultural heritage information beyond the current “walled garden” metaphor of the Website and into spaces where it is available to search engines, aggregators and other entities that compile and serve it to users in ways that they have come to expect. Thank you ( click )
DE Conferentie 2008 - Dag 1 - Keynote spreker - Diane M. Zorich
Diane M. Zorich Cultural Heritage Consultant Going Outside to Get Inside Library, Archive, and Museum Collaboration 9 December 2008 DEN Annual Conference Rotterdam
Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums (LAMs) www.oclc.org/programs/publications/reports/2008-05.pdf
Assumptions <ul><li>LAMs have commonalities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Collections …..Needs…..Functions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>LAMs housed in a larger parent organization more likely to collaborate </li></ul><ul><li>The online world is a driving factor </li></ul><ul><li>Time for action! </li></ul>
Goals <ul><li>To explore the nature of LAM collaborations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How are they created and sustained? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To help LAMs be more productive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What common functions could be integrated to achieve greater efficiencies? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To help LAMs create environments more in line with user expectations </li></ul>
Qualitative Methodology <ul><li>Background research </li></ul><ul><li>Discussions with thought leaders </li></ul><ul><li>Discussions with LAMs who are at the beginning of the Collaboration Continuum </li></ul><ul><li>Workshops with LAMs who are at the midpoint of the Collaboration Continuum </li></ul>
Workshops <ul><li>Princeton University </li></ul><ul><li>Smithsonian Institution </li></ul><ul><li>Yale University </li></ul><ul><li>University of Edinburgh </li></ul><ul><li>Victoria and Albert Museum </li></ul>
Their Vision Boundaries blend Experimentation sandboxes Ubiquitous access Centralized services Cultural commons Single search Pooled expertise Digital work environment
Some of the Projects <ul><li>Comprehensive digitization of photograph collections </li></ul><ul><li>A “Federation of Collections” </li></ul><ul><li>Exploration of federated search models (“single search” across collections) </li></ul><ul><li>“One Store” for digital assets </li></ul>Will these projects succeed?
Collaboration Catalysts <ul><li>Factors and circumstances that make it more likely for collaborations to succeed </li></ul><ul><li>Vision --- Mandate --- Incentives --- Change Agents Mooring --- Resources --- Flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>External Catalysts --- Trust </li></ul>
Catalyst: Vision <ul><li>Collaborations must be embedded in a larger vision shared by all </li></ul>Vision of St Bridget Late 14th century. MS. M.498, f.4v.
Catalyst: Mandate <ul><li>“ I’m… looking for a few really good ideas that will help us advance the mission and take [us] forward. [If you] come up with a really, creative innovative vision that is at the intersection of these institutions and will help our mission, and you help me frame it, I’m more than ready to … carry it forward.” </li></ul><ul><li>- Senior official RLG LAM workshop site </li></ul>
Catalyst: Mooring <ul><li> Michael Maggs </li></ul><ul><li>A home base, such as .. </li></ul><ul><li>Administrative unit </li></ul><ul><li>Committee </li></ul><ul><li>Integrated department </li></ul>
Catalyst: Flexibility <ul><li>Professionals who understand collections issues in libraries, archives and museums… </li></ul>
Possible Next Steps <ul><li>Longitudinal study of projects proposed at the workshop sites </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborations among “standalone” LAMs </li></ul><ul><li>Comparative studies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the sciences, academic humanities </li></ul></ul>
Going Outside You are here Your users are here and here
Acknowledgements <ul><li>RLG Programs/OCLC </li></ul><ul><li>Especially my colleagues and co-authors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>G ünter Waibel, Program Officer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ricky Erway, Senior Program Officer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The many professionals who participated in the RLG LAM workshops and discussions </li></ul>