Beyond the Silos of the LAMs - Library, Archive, Museum Collaboration


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A briefing to the OCLC Global Council on library, archive and museum collaboration by Ricky Erway and Günter Waibel, OCLC Research.

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  • [Ricky] We’re very happy to have this opportunity for a discussion with those who are helping to pilot OCLC into less familiar waters. Guenter and I will set the stage for a conversation that will begin here, but hopefully continue in your council discussions.
  • Since OCLC primarily represents the library point of view, we all could think of lots of reasons museums and archives would want to collaborate with us. But this is not just a discussion about helping archives and museums by bringing them into our fold. Libraries stand to gain every bit as much from LAM collaboration. Here’s Sheila Cannell saying why it matters to libraries.
  • Now a bit about why collaboration matters to the RLG Partnership. The RLG Partnership is transnational and includes a variety of libraries, archives, and museums. Consequently everything we do requires effective collaboration. Focusing on library, archive, and museum collaboration is both useful to us in the work we do with our partners and is useful to the partner institutions in exploring collaboration opportunities within their own institutions. [next: G ünter ]
  • Later in this talk, you’ll hear about a workshop OCLC Research created to deepen library, archive and museum collaboration at campus-like institutions. To set the tone for the workshop, we created a presentation introducing the topic. I’d like to share a handful of slides from that presentation with you to create a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities. This section of the presentation is called “Story Time – a short history of libraries, archives and museums” – after all, when you’re trying to figure out where to go, sometimes it helps to consider where you’ve been.
  • The cabinets of curiosities assembled by gentleman scholars in the 17 th and 18 th century provide the seed collections for modern libraries, archives and museums, and are therefore the starting point for our short history. Cabinets of curiosities did not differentiate materials into what we consider today museum objects, library books and archival papers. They contain [CLICK] 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 you see here, represent an undifferentiating passion for knowing the world and collecting the evidence of natural and cultural production. [CLICK] The gentleman scholar’s collecting activity explicitly aimed to unite the world’s information under one roof – however, access to this body of information remained the exclusive and expensive pleasure of the leisure class.
  • With the rise of democracy and the establishment of modern nation states in the 19 th and 20 th century emerge new ideas about how information should be collected, managed and shared. [CLICK] As a result, the world of information stratifies into libraries, archives and museums. The cabinets of curiosity of the gentleman scholar become the founding collections of these modern institutions. Each type of material begets its own dedicated domain. [CLICK] To the state, these new institutions are an economic solution for managing and safekeeping the massive onslaught of cultural production in a modern nation; to the citizens of a democracy, these institutions respond to their expectations of transparency and access to information. However, this new model of specialization also segregates cultural content into libraries, archives and museums.
  • In a way, we have come full circle. With the rise of the internet, the gentleman scholar’s dream of the world of information at your fingertip experiences a revival in the 21 st century. [CLICK] Search engines have become the de-facto first stop for information gathering. An OCLC Perceptions Report from 2005 shows that 84% of respondents claim that they start their quest for information with a search engine, as opposed to the 1% who start with a library website. Not only are search engines the first stop for information gathering, they have also profoundly shaped our users expectations of how to search for and retrieve information. The single search box exemplifies the ideal of an integrated search across all relevant resources. [CLICK] Universities and other organizations managing a plethora of collections are starting to think about how they can provide a more integrated experience for the scholars and students they serve. 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. [CLICK] Arguably, they are trying to take advantage of what could be the most democratic, most economic and most integrated information space to date – libraries, archives and museums acting as a single body of LAM information, using the internet with its 24/7 availability as their platform. [Next: Ricky]
  • We’ll let Anne Van Camp describe what that opportunity means for the Smithsonian Institution and how important it is for them to adequately serve evolving audiences.
  • We knew there were many others in the Partnership who were equally interested, so we chose five large campus or campus-like institutions with track records of LAM collaboration. We conceived a workshop approach and hired Diane Zorich, an expert facilitator. Diane, Guenter and I designed an outcome-oriented, day-long workshop for library, archive and museum professionals in campus environments. Our goals were to learn about existing LAM collaborations and to spur new and deeper working relationships among LAMs. The workshops were well-received by the attendees and very productive. For us it was an invaluable opportunity to really get to know an institution and its culture, issues, and aspirations.
  • For each workshop, we enlisted a sponsoring committee of directors of libraries, archives, and museums. With their help, we learned all we could about the mission, organization, and accomplishments of the institution. We had a provostial-level official kick off the workshop, signifying to the attendees that they were part of an important undertaking with high-level support. Then we rolled up our sleeves.
  • First the workshop participants described some of the collaborations underway on their campus. Many times they were surprised to see just how much LAM collaboration was already taking place. Often they were things like a joint exhibit or an endeavor in which the library was the prime mover and the museums and archives were the prime beneficiaries. But it helped to make the case that LAM collaboration was not new to the campus and that established precedents could serve as jumping off points. CLICK Next the participants were asked to identify motivations and obstacles in the collaborative process. Typically they identified more obstacles than motivations, but the motivations were compelling and most obstacles could be overcome. Having recognized and discussed possible obstacles, CLICK we then asked them to imagine a world without obstacles. CLICK What is their vision for their institution? During the process, most participants went quickly from their own point of view to their users’ point of view. The visions were far-flung and yet surprisingly similar across the institutions. After the euphoria of imagining what could be, CLICK participants were asked to identify some discrete projects that would bring them closer to their vision. [next: G ünter ]
  • This image shows almost all of the participants at the Smithsonian workshop. And again, we have Anne Van Camp as our eyewitness to give you a brief impression of the day and what it meant for the Smithsonian.
  • [play audio] Anne was being too modest when she called the ideas workshop participants came up with “pretty good”. We thought they were ambitious and well designed to make a difference for both the Smithsonian staff and public.
  • Without any funding, the Smithsonian found creative ways to deliver on the plans made during the workshop. The plan for comprehensive photo digitization morphed into the Smithsonian’s early participation in the Flickr Commons, where ten Smithsonian units now make photographs available. Images range from historic and contemporary photographs to digital images of space taken by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and have found a grateful audience on the photo sharing website.
  • As for the “single point of access”, the Smithsonian actually upgraded its ambition from an internal intranet search to a public search across Smithsonian collections. If you recall Anne’s words that many of the units use different collections management systems, you can imagine the challenges of this undertaking. In November, the Smithsonian launched a new website called “Collections Search Center”, a service bringing together 2 million records and 265K multimedia files from 45 Smithsonian units. The Smithsonian Office of the Chief Information Officer played a key role in coordinating the units and putting the technology for single search access in place, and remains a strong catalyst for joint action across the Smithsonian units.
  • Let’s briefly look at outcomes at another workshop site. Here are notes taken during the Yale LAM collaboration workshop. At Yale, collaboration projects had been supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Grant, and the university was looking for a way to make the existing collaborations sustainable beyond the grant funding and leverage the seed projects into new ventures. We discussed many discreet projects of merit during the workshop - you can see some of them reflected on the blackboard. At the end of the day, participants felt that what they needed the most to take collaboration to the next level was a central committee or office which they called [CLICK] the Federation of Yale Collections. Without this central body to coordinate, they feared that even the most innovative collaborative projects may eventually fall by the wayside as collecting units get distracted from joint work by their day-to-day operations.
  • Here is the recommendation workshop participants made. While we realize that our workshop was not the only factor which played a role in the establishment of a new office on the Yale campus, you can imagine that we felt quite gratified when Yale announced [CLICK] the Office of Digital Assets and Infrastructure (ODAI) less than a year after the event. This new office has a mission which is quite similar to what the workshop participants had envisioned. [CLICK] It champions many of the projects discussed during our day at Yale, including cross collection search and a coordinated campus-wide approach to digital asset management and digital preservation. [next: Ricky]
  • Yale had the will and numerous projects underway, they had lacked the infrastructure to ground them. At the University of Edinburgh, they had the organizational foundation, but they had not yet fully taken advantage of it. Still in a transitional stage, University Collections provides administration and support, which can preclude potential obstacles. While the distributed nature of some of the collections has resulted in silos of content, they are determined to unite them. This will be made possible by the fact that faculty and University officials now see University Collections as the professional group with strategic oversight and management responsibility for the university’s libraries, archives, and museums. Having developed a shared vision and having identified the next steps toward it, the administrative structure will ease the way toward deeper collaborations at Edinburgh.
  • The University of Edinburgh identified two projects during the workshop. • They will undertake a systematic analysis of their current federated search efforts, explore models that offer different approaches (such as federated search, harvesting, or combined approaches), and they’ll develop a cross-collection searching strategy. They feel that there is going to be another big technology leap in the next year or two and they want to be positioned to take advantage of it • secondly, they’ll enhance acquisitions. As we heard Sheila say, the future is in unique collections, yet acquisition budgets for special collections are dwarfed by that of the library. LAMS will work together to identify their common acquisition needs and concerns, articulate a unified vision for collection development, identify ways to promote this vision, and position it appropriately so that the University will consider collection development a priority in its next round of fundraising. They are simplifying and interlinking the collection development policies across the LAMs, exploring common themes in collections, new areas for acquisition, and ways to develop unique and distinctive strengths.
  • Here are all the activities that were proposed in the LAM workshops. They ranged from an assessment of social tagging prior to incorporating it into the institution’s website to a single home for the management and preservation of all campus digital assets.
  • Collaboration doesn’t come naturally, especially when staff are being pulled in many different directions. One of the outcomes of the series of workshops was the identification of several catalysts that make for successful collaborations. 1. As collaboration increases, CLICK the trust the parties have in each other must equally grow. Collaboration is an exercise in building trust from the first handshake all the way to combining common functions. 2. Collaboration can benefit from the CLICK presence of a change agent – a trusted, often-neutral, individual, department, or program that keeps the effort alive, injects it with ideas, and keeps participants focused on the overall vision. 3. Collaborations thrive and survive when they have CLICK administrative mooring from which they can conduct operations, communicate with others, and incorporate their efforts into the broader mission of their institution. 4. Collaborations cannot function on “collaborative will” alone. They need CLICK tangible resources such as stable IT infrastructure, stable funding, and dedicated teams of staff and expertise in order to sustain their successes. 5. CLICK Flexible LAM professionals who understand issues surrounding different types of collections and collecting practices bring an open-mind and embrace ideas from other professions in the interests of the collaboration. 6. CLICK External Catalysts also play a role. Successful LAM efforts clearly define their audience and create collaborations that serve their distinctive needs. LAMs may also be concerned about keeping up with their colleagues at other institutions. And LAMs feel pressure to meet expectations of funders. CLICK We’ll go into a little more detail on the next three.
  • 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. If a collaborative effort succeeds, it becomes another step closer to the vision. If a collaborative effort fails, the vision itself still remains and the parties involved can regroup to strategize about a new attempt. A well articulated vision is also key to shoring up administrative support, as these words from a senior administrator at one of our workshop sites indicate.
  • A mandate, expressly conveyed through strategic plans or high-level directives—as well as less formal modes of encouragement—can kindle and sustain staff enthusiasm for collaboration. Some workshop participants seemed unclear about whether they truly had an administrative mandate to work together more closely. This quote shows the power a clearly articulated mandate has.
  • Staff evaluations and departmental assessments should include collaborative activities in their appraisals, and support these efforts with promotion, monetary incentives and public recognition of collaborative work. We found that incentives for collaboration by and large did not exist at the workshops sites. In fact, the existing metrics for success often focus exclusively on individual units, and don’t promote the success of the collaborative whole. Libraries, archives and museums belonging to the same institution find themselves competing for donors, visitors, and attention, as the quote highlights. Not all these catalysts are required for successful collaboration. One or two can be sufficient to enable progress. But when several catalysts come together in positive ways, magic can happen. [next: G ünter ]
  • During our investigation, we learned that collaboration is a term on everybody’s lips, and we became increasingly curious about what people really mean when they use the word. Collaboration can mean everything from chatting over coffee with a colleague to sharing mission-critical infrastructure, depending on the speaker and the context. As a result, we felt the need to differentiate between friendly interactions and deep working relationships.
  • This graph responds to that need by suggesting terminology to classify different types of collaborative relationships, and organizing them along a continuum. The Collaboration Continuum is quite intuitive – working relationships start with Contact, and potentially evolve through the stages of Cooperation, Coordination, Collaboration and Convergence. As you proceed on the continuum from left to right, your investments and risk steadily increase, as do your benefits – in other words, you become more and more interdependent on your collaboration partners. We always make a point of highlighting that there is a noticeable shift in your working relationship [CLICK] as you go from coordination to collaboration. [CLICK] The relationships to the left of the blue line can be characterized as “additive” – they don’t change your practices and behavior. When people complain that they have too much work on their hands to collaborate, you know that they are contemplating an additive relationship, that is, a working relationship where what you do together is in addition to what you already have to do on your own. Everything to the right of the blue line is transformative, and the domain of true collaboration. Relationships based on collaboration or convergence change behaviors, processes and organizational structures, and lead to a fundamental interconnectedness and interdependence among the partners. The collaboration doesn’t just add work to your plate, it also takes work off your plate which is now done by your collaboration partner. In the Yale example, sharing asset management or digital preservation infrastructure across the campus are truly transformative collaborations.
  • This concludes our review of the workshop series. For a more detailed information on the collaboration continuum, as well as many other lessons learned from our conversations with thought leaders, the RLG partners, and the workshop participants, I recommend the rather cleverly titled report “Beyond the Silos of the LAMs” to you.
  • Since the workshop series, we continue to keep tabs on the LAM collaboration scene. As we have shared with you, there are many catalysts which can help move collaboration forward. While space issues only played a limited role during our workshops, we are now closely watching two very different projects which will integrate library, archive and museum functions into a newly designed building. In both instances, the building project itself has become a prime catalyst. [CLICK] At the University of Calgary, the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) (currently under construction) will bring together libraries, archives, museums, and the university press into a 21st century research facility at the heart of campus. Six cross-domain staff committees have made recommendations in areas ranging from collections care to media & technology so that what happens in the building is as cutting edge as the physical space itself. Calgary’s stated ambition is for the Taylor Family Digital Library to be an “ideal reflection of the converged environment.”
  • The State Libraries, Archives and Museums of Alaska have been integrated into a single division under the Department of Education since 1991. However, despite the administrative integration, the library, archive and museum units themselves remained in silos until it was decided to physically move them into a new building. [CLICK] Identifying space needs for the Libraries, Archives and Museums of Alaska begged the question of overlapping functions across the units, [CLICK] which led to deep thinking about the many ways in which these three former silos could jointly leap into the future.
  • For many institutions, planning for an integrated physical environment is obviously not the most expedient way to move library, archive and museum collaboration forward. However, another trend we’re seeing is that campuses and campus-like institutions increasingly appoint or empower individuals to be the focal point for collaborative activities. Both Yale and Duke have created new positions to ensure a deliberate and effective approach for an infrastructure supporting collections. You can see other examples for leaders in this area on the slide. It is interesting to note that these unifying positions do not always reside in the library. [next: Ricky]
  • During the LAM workshops we focused on collaboration at the local level. CLICK There are several examples of collaboration at the group level, sometimes around shared content, sometimes due to grant funding. CLICK Ultimately we should extend our thinking beyond our own interests to the community values and begin to collaborate on activities to serve those needs.
  • Many collaborations are geographically bounded. This may make sense from a practical point of view, due to proximity and funding, but to the user they may be arbitrary boundaries. For example, the Online Archive of California doesn’t strive to have everything about California, rather everything from Californian institutions. CLICK Similarly, Europeana will include things held in European collections that are about other continents, but will not include things about Europe that are held outside of Europe. CLICK The Center for Research Libraries is an example of a collaboration that started out based on geography, but is transcending those boundaries, because it makes sense in achieving the goals of their members. As we move our thoughts beyond local LAM collaboration, it’s natural to wonder ….
  • What is the role of OCLC in library, archive, museum collaboration?
  • Beyond the Silos of the LAMs - Library, Archive, Museum Collaboration

    1. 1. Beyond the Silos of the LAMs: Library, Archive and Museum Collaboration G ünter Waibel & Ricky Erway OCLC Research 16 December 2009 OCLC Global Council Webinar
    2. 2. Sheila Cannell Director, Library Services University of Edinburgh Why LAM matters to libraries…
    3. 3. Sheila Cannell Director, Library Services University of Edinburgh Why LAM matters to libraries… “ We've looked after things that are common. Every library has the same copies of books, and actually in the networked digital age that is being taken away from us because it's happening at a different level, it's not happening at the level of the local library. I'm really quite convinced that what we have to do is to boost up the whole area of what would be called the intellectual capital of the university, which I think happens within our special collections, within our archives (both those that are older and those that are being created now), and in our museums. I'm really interested in how we reposition the traditional library into that more general area. Probably looking after rare and unique objects, which can range from museum object right through to a piece of research data is where the future is going to be.”
    4. 4. Why collaboration matters to us RLG Partnership About 130 partner institutions in North America, Europe, the Middle East and in the Asia-Pacific region. Libraries, archives, museums
    5. 5. Story Time A short history of libraries, archives and museums NYPL Digital Library. Rivington Branch, Story Hour: A Girl's Club Listening to a Story of Atlanta. Digital Image ID:1145780
    6. 6. First: One for All—Cabinets of Curiosity Less democratic • Less economic • More integrated
    7. 7. Then: One for Each—Libraries, Archives and Museums More democratic • More economic • Less integrated
    8. 8. Now: One for All (Again) <ul><li>Library + Archive + Museum = LAM </li></ul>Most democratic • Most economic • Most integrated
    9. 9. Anne Van Camp Director, Smithsonian Institution Archives & OCLC Americas Regional Council Delegate LAM: Opportunity & Challenge
    10. 10. Anne Van Camp Director, Smithsonian Institution Archives & OCLC Americas Regional Council LAM: Opportunity & Challenge We are 19 museums, 9 research centers that are scattered across the world, we have 18 different archives, we have 1 library, but that library has 20 branches, and we have 1 zoo. So it's a rather complicated place, and you can imagine the challenge we face in trying to bring all of this disparate information together. The question for us is: Why should we collaborate? I mean, everybody has got their own collection information systems. We like to think that what’s driving it is the demand of our new audiences, the digital natives. They’re children who really think that www means whatever, whenever, wherever.
    11. 11. OCLC Research LAM Workshops Princeton Smithsonian Victoria & Albert U of Edinburgh Yale
    12. 13. current collaborations obstacles a vision actionable projects
    13. 14. LAM Workshop @ Smithsonian Institution Anne Van Camp, Director, Smithsonian Institution Archives
    14. 15. LAM Workshop @ Smithsonian Institution Anne Van Camp, Director, Smithsonian Institution Archives We ultimately ended up roughly 23 people from across the institution, but really good representation from all 3 sectors, the libraries, the archives and the museums. It was probably the first time that all those people had been in the same room together ever. It was just a remarkable day for all of those people coming together and sharing all the things that we're doing collaboratively, or we're not doing collaboratively, and identifying what the obstacles were. At the end of the day, we did come up with two pretty good ideas: one was the development of a comprehensive digitization and access program for our unencumbered photo collections. Now, photo collections live across the institution. As you can imagine, every single one of these entities has a photo collection. The second idea was to create an internal single point of access for all the collections. The reason we wanted to do it internally first was because we were painfully aware that we were not sharing very well internally, and even if people wanted to do, let's say, and exhibit, let's say on Abraham Lincoln, who knew where things about Abraham Lincoln live across the Smithsonian? It would take years to try to figure that out.
    15. 16. Outcome: SI on Flickr Commons
    16. 17. Outcome: SI Collections Search Center
    17. 18. Yale Workshop: Project
    18. 19. “ Federation of Collections”
    19. 20. CRC based University of Edinburgh slide courtesy of John Scally, UofE UNIVERSITY COLLECTIONS Special Collections SC Museums Support & Development Talbot Rice Art Gallery University Archives SC EUCHMI Historic Musical Instruments Digital Imaging Unit SC Conservation Digital Projects & Innovation Lothian Health Services Archive Fine Art Collection Natural History Collection Cockburn Geological Museum Anatomy Collection School of Scottish Studies Archive Polish School of Medicine
    20. 21. Silos of the LAMs Report : UoE Collaborative Areas <ul><li>Exploration of a federated search model </li></ul><ul><li>Enhancement of the acquisitions programme </li></ul>slide courtesy of John Scally, UofE
    21. 22. All LAM Workshop Projects <ul><ul><li>An investigation of social tagging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exploration of federated search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhancement of the Acquisitions Program </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Federated search of all university image resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comprehensive photo digitization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal single point of access to all collections information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A large-scale digitization effort of treasures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Innovation on the Web </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Federation of Collections” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ One Store” for digital asset management </li></ul></ul>
    22. 23. The Collaboration Catalysts <ul><li>Trust </li></ul><ul><li>Change Agent </li></ul><ul><li>Mooring </li></ul><ul><li>Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>External catalysts </li></ul><ul><li>Vision </li></ul><ul><li>Mandate </li></ul><ul><li>Incentives </li></ul>
    23. 24. Vision <ul><li>An inspiring vision provides the context in which obstacles can be overcome </li></ul><ul><li>“ [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>
    24. 25. Mandate <ul><li>A mandate provides clarity about priorities and empowers those naturally inclined to collaborate </li></ul><ul><li>“ The vice-president of the university has called a task force together about digital dissemination, so we're all getting this as a mandate…Sustainability will become more possible because of the mandate…from someone far more powerful.” </li></ul>
    25. 26. Incentive <ul><li>Incentives ensure that staff have a tangible reason to engage in the hard work of collaboration </li></ul>“ We have spoken long about cross-institutional collaboration. The reality has been though…that we are measured against each other and then you do take naturally a possessive attitude.”
    26. 27. What ’s in a word? Collaboration
    27. 28. Collaboration Continuum additive transformative ...
    28. 30. Trend: Space University of Calgary
    29. 31. Trend: Space State Libraries, Archives and Museums of Alaska
    30. 32. <ul><li>Smithsonian: Office of the Chief Information Officer, Smithsonian </li></ul><ul><li>Yale: Office of Digital Asset Management and Infrastructure / Office of Digital Dissemination </li></ul><ul><li>Duke: Director of Digital Information Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>University of Edinburgh: Director of University Collections </li></ul><ul><li>University of Aberdeen: Head of Historic Collections </li></ul>Trend: Centralization examples outside library examples inside library
    31. 33. “ We work together because we share the same interest” Local “ Things work at scale because the community shares the same values” Global “ We work together because we have the same employer” Group
    32. 34. Trend: Geographically bounded aggregations
    33. 35. Network Level: LAMs in the wild What is the role of OCLC?