What is GLAM? Some personal ponderings
I've been thinking a bit recently about GLAM or GLAMR and what it is, what it could be, what it means to me and how my experiences have shaped my opinions. I had intended to do some research around what it means to people around the sector however various crises (broken phone, work insanity) has prevented this. However, I'd still love to know what GLAM means to you!
A former manager of mine used, every now and again, to mention a 2008 report called 'Beyond the Silos of the LAMs: collaboration among libraries, archives and museum'. I must confess I've never quite managed to read the whole report, but in spite of, or perhaps because of, the memorable title I've never forgotten it. Are we collaborating as well as we could? Are we recognising that GLAM is a continuum? Are those silos still there?
LAM or GLAM or GLAMR or GLAMIT is a huge sector, encompassing any kind of library you can think of, all shapes and sizes of museums, galleries (do commercial galleries count??), historical archives, archives of official documents, records managements, and any combination of the above (for example I have worked in the library and archive of a museum). Caring for old masters is a world away from chucking out manky old paperbacks, but helping a student find and cite a reference isn't a million miles away from helping someone find a death notice.
There are many areas where we all overlap and can work together to share knowledge and insight. For example, when I was working in museum libraries, we were dealing with in-depth questions all the time but I never had any reference interview training - didn't know what one was until a colleague assured me that I was doing them quite naturally! This makes me wonder - could libraries share reference interview training with other GLAM institutions? (Maybe this happens already?) Conversely, given that museums and archives will often deal with complex enquiries, do they have any learnings that could be shared?
We are so fortunate in this country to have the National Digital Forum, a true example of sector collaboration (although sometimes I wonder whether some librarians truly know how relevant this is to them and what they could contribute). The opportunity to meet people from all around the sector and share ideas and aspirations really breaks down those silos. For me, I would love to see even more people move around the full range of the GLAM sector, making the most of those transferable skills, as a way to develop and grow their careers. I think this could be a way to strengthen the sector and grow leaders. I love how LIANZA has a professional registration programme and Kōtuku, an emergng leaders programme, and I wonder sometimes if something similar that covers the whole GLAM sector could be beneficial?
I've been fortunate enough to work all round the GLAMR sector (shredding old enquiries is totally records management) and I would hope that any silos that may remain out there don't prevent people from exploring a few different avenues in their careers.
Image from Flickr.