Situating ourselves as librarians and archivists in a museum setting 2005 RLG Members Forum: Libraries, Archives, & Museums—Three-Ring Circus, One Big Show?
The precariousness of being a “sideshow”. When it is a part of a university, even the museum itself becomes a side-show. Other prominent closings under consideration: FSU Ringling Museum, the UCLA arts library, and the Courtauld Institute’s image archives.
Ken’s conclusion: collaboration provides the means of staying connected and relevant.
We expanded Ken’s ideas about collaboration into a collaboration continuum. The key characteristic of deep collaboration: it is transformative rather than additive. cooperation and coordination are additive – they don’t change your behavior, they just add something that’s nice-to-have, but not essential. collaboration and convergence are transformative – they change behaviors, processes and organizational structures, and lead to a fundamental interconnectedness and interdependence among the partners. The continuum starts with contact , when groups first meet to open up a dialog and explore commonalities in activities and needs. The “get to know you” nature of the meeting leads to the development of interpersonal relationships and a foundation of trust. The next major point on the continuum is cooperation . At this stage, there is agreement 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. Coordination marks the next major point on the continuum. When cooperative activities move beyond a stage where they can be undertaken on an “as needed” basis, a framework is required to organize efforts and ensure that everyone in the group understands who does what, when, and where. The next point on the continuum, collaboration , moves beyond those agreements to a shared understanding that none could have come to on their own. Information is not just exchanged; it is used to create something new, a transformation among 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. At this point, each of the partners has freed up time to focus more productively on tasks only they are qualified to do. Lending for exhibitions could fall under the rubrik of cooperation and coordination, whereas a joint investment in a trusted digital repository would be an undertaking worthy of the label “collaboration.”
The interconnectedness and interdependence collaboration brings with it allows each of the partners to stay relevant to an endeavor and each other. If as museum librarians and archivists you can find ways to be this relevant to each other and your museums colleagues, then you can no longer be regarded as a dispensable sideshow. I’d like to look at two projects which explored collaboration in the hope that they contain lessons and ideas which you could emulate. One addresses your relevance to your home institution, the other faces outward to your relevance to a larger network of peers.
Example 1: Collaboration under the same roof.
One way to start the dialog among libraries, archives and museums is to bring representatives together for an intensive workshop. To find out how far campus-like institutions have pushed ahead on the continuum, and whether we could surface models for other’s to emulate, we chose five large institutions with a track record of LAM collaboration for day-long workshops.
We designed an outcome-oriented one day workshop for library, archive and museum professionals in campus or campus-like environments. Our goals were to be both observers of existing initiatives of LAM collaboration, as well as catalysts for new and deeper working relationships among LAMs. The workshops were so productive and well-received by the 10-20 attendees at each site that I feel confident in saying: you should try this at home! Workshop participants were asked to identify motivations and obstacles in the collaborative process, and plan new collaborative projects and programs that addressed needs at their own institutions.
Workshop participants were asked to identify motivations and obstacles in the collaborative process, create a share vision, and plan new collaborative projects and programs that addressed needs at their own institutions.
An example project from the Smithsonian. Pam’s notes: The Smithsonian has an estimated 13 million images in its photographic collections, and of course only a small percentage of them are currently digitized. In June 2008, we had the opportunity to join the Flickr Commons, a photo sharing website for cultural heritage institutions. We started a collaborative LAM project to post more than 1000 images initially “with no known copyright restrictions.”
A second project example. Pam’s notes: The second project was to create a single point of access to all of our collection information across the Institution for internal staff use. The thought being that it would foster information sharing, repurposing, reuse and help drive collaboration efforts. We would be tearing down our internal silos. Instead, we received a grant to create something very similar for external access to content already approved for web access to the general public. This project’s name is EDAN—the Enterprise Digital Asset Net.
Yale: The creation of a “Federation of Collections. ” This will have an advocacy role of identifying priorities for collections and serving as the voice of a collaborative vision on how best to use collections to fulfill the educational mission of the University. The Federation’s early efforts will coalesce around two areas: identifying ways to share physical facilities and services and planning a shared information architecture for cross-collection services Update: Yale just created the Office of Digital Assets and Infrastructure (ODAI) to support an integrated campus-wide architecture for access to Yale library, archive, museum collections, as well as faculty research output. Meg Bellinger, a key player in the LAM workshops, will head the new office.
Collaboration doesn’t come naturally, especially when there are so many immediate things needing our attention. It will only happen where it is accepted that the outcome will benefit all involved (whether in efficiencies, in reaching broader audiences, in supporting the mission, in enhancing professional skills…) We’ve found that the presence of one or more catalysts is crucial in fostering the discussions between libraries, archives and museums. [Catalysts include: 1. As the stakes in terms of rewards and risk get higher along the collaboration continuum, the trust the parties have in each other must equally grow. Moving along the points on the collaboration continuum is an exercise in building trust from the first handshake all the way to combining common functions. 2. For a collaborative idea to succeed, it has to be embedded in an overarching vision all participants share, and which makes it worth the effort to overcome the inevitable obstacles. 3. Mandates are powerful catalysts for collaboration, and range from expressions of support to mandates enforced by metrics. A mandate can kindle and sustain staff commitment in collaboration. 4. Collaborations nurtured by incentive structures reward both individual and collective efforts undertaken on behalf of the collaboration. Existing incentive structures often encourage competition among LAMs. Recognizing independent action and departmental fund-raising prowess can foster parochial attitudes. 5. At every stage, collaboration can benefit from the presence of a change agent ” – a trusted, often-neutral, individual, department, or program that keeps the effort alive, injects it with resources (ideas, technology, staff), and keeps participants focused on the overall vision. 6. Collaborations thrive and survive when they have an administrative mooring from which they can conduct operations, communicate with others, and incorporate their efforts into the broader mission of their institution. Untethered collaborations face continuous struggles as ad-hoc efforts. 7. Collaborations cannot function on “collaborative will” alone. They need tangible resources such as stable IT infrastructure, stable funding, and dedicated teams of staff and expertise in order to sustain their successes. 8. Flexible LAM professionals who understand issues surrounding different types of collections and collecting practices bring an open-mind to embrace ideas from other professions in the interests of the collaboration. 9. External Catalysts also play a role. Successful LAM efforts clearly define their audience and create collaborations that serve their distinctive needs. LAMs are keenly aware of keeping up with what their colleagues are doing at other institutions. LAMs feel pressure to meet funding expectations but ensure that their collaborations are not “one-off” projects. 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.]
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 testify.
Staff evaluations and departmental assessments should include collaborative activities in their appraisals, and make it possible to 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 our workshops sites. To add insult to injury, 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 found themselves competing for donors, visitors and attention, as the quote highlights.
For a more detailed review of collaboration catalysts and the collaboration continuum, as well as many other lessons learned from our conversations with thought leaders, the RLG partners, and the workshop participants, may I suggest you consult the rather cleverly titled report “Beyond the Silos of the LAMs,” available as a free download from the RLG Programs website?
Example 2: Collaboration in the wild.
Brooklyn: tommaync Met: guillermogg Frick: Rafael Chamorro MoMA: sara~
Even excluding “intrinsically unique” materials (such as archival collections, vertical files etc. - 117,488 records coded as “collections”), 80 percent of the remaining titles are still held uniquely by a single institution. This suggests that a high degree of uniqueness exists across the four individual NYARC collections, which in turn suggests a value in aggregation: the collective holdings of the four institutions represent a collection of far greater scope than any single collection in isolation. Data as of January 2007
Of the 831,657 clusters in the NYARC-4 aggregate collection (RUC data only): 508,289 (61 percent) are held by at least 1 WorldCat library 323,368 (39 percent) are unique to NYARC-4 vis-à-vis WorldCat
Libraries, Archives and Museums - From cooperation to collaborative transformation
Libraries, Archives and Museums: From cooperation to collaborative transformation G ünter Waibel Program Officer, OCLC Research September 10 2009 LMLAG - Not Museum Pieces? The Developing Role of Archivists and Librarians in Museums
“ We all understand that for art museums, the collection of works of art is always center ring and will always have top billing. The art museum library is a sideshow, a sideshow that serves to bring out the best of the main attraction.” – Ken Soehner, Chief Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library , Metropolitan Museum of Art (2005) full talk: http://tinyurl.com/5gckfb
full talk: http://tinyurl.com/5gckfb “ To survive and to flourish […] it will be necessary for us to become as efficient and as inventive as possible. […] True collaboration that goes beyond cooperation towards partnership, may be able to give us the resources and generate the pressure to force us out of our old circus rings and into a new and more dazzling performance.” – Ken Soehner, Chief Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library , Metropolitan Museum of Art (2005)
“ The Developing Role of Archivists and Librarians in Museums” <ul><li>Relevance and interconnectedness through collaboration </li></ul>Collaboration in the wild: New York Art Consortium (NYARC) Collaboration among LAMs under the same roof: Library, archive, museum workshops
<ul><li>Collaboration among LAMs under the same roof: </li></ul><ul><li>Library, archive, museum workshops </li></ul>Library Archive Museum
The Workshops Princeton Smithsonian Victoria & Albert U of Edinburgh Yale
current collaborations obstacles a vision actionable projects
Collaboration Projects Realized <ul><li>Original: Development of a comprehensive digitization and access program for unencumbered photographic collections. </li></ul><ul><li>Actual: Development of an unencumbered photographic collection in Flickr Commons and the Smithsonian Photography Initiative. </li></ul>viewed 37,853 times favorited 802 times slide courtesy of Pamela Smith, Smithsonian Office of the CIO
Collaboration Projects Realized <ul><li>Original: Creation of an internal single point of access to all Smithsonian collections information for staff. </li></ul><ul><li>Actual: Creation of an external single point of access to all public Smithsonian digital collections. </li></ul>slide courtesy of Pamela Smith, Smithsonian Office of the CIO
<ul><li>“ Yale Federation of Collections” “By advocating on behalf of collections, the Federation will help create a sustainable environment for collaborations that enhance access to and use of collections by users across campus and throughout the world.” ( Beyond the Silos of the LAMs ) </li></ul>Mooring
The Collaboration Catalysts <ul><li> Vision </li></ul><ul><li> Mandate </li></ul><ul><li> Incentives </li></ul><ul><li> Change Agents </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>Trust </li></ul> Collaboration Stones for Stepping Collaboration Stones for Stepping Collaboration Stones for Stepping
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>
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.”
Collaboration in the wild: New York Art Consortium (NYARC) Frick Brooklyn Met MoMA
Brooklyn Museum Library Museum of Modern Art Library Frick Art Reference Library Metropolitan Museum, Watson Library
Brooklyn Museum Library Museum of Modern Art Library Frick Art Reference Library Metropolitan Museum, Watson Library
NYARC* vis-à-vis WorldCat *not including auction catalogs 39% of NYARC titles unique
Topics ID ’d & Discussed <ul><li>Privileged Access </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will I let your patrons through my door? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Will I lend / deliver to your patrons? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collection Development </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will I let you know what I’m buying? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Will I collaborate with you so we don’t duplicate? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Outsourcing cataloging </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can I outsource my cataloging to you? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can we together outsource our cataloging to a 3 rd party? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Joint Licensing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can I piggy-back on your license? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can we license resources as a consortium? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Shared Public View </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can we disclose our resources to the public in a single discovery environment? </li></ul></ul>