Archive for the 'LAM (Libraries, Archives, Museums)' Category

OCLC Research 2010: Pulse taking

Monday, December 27th, 2010 by Ricky

As 2010 winds down, we are reflecting on what we’ve worked on or created in a mini blog series. You can see a run down of highlights here.

My colleague Jackie wrangled an incredibly long survey of an incredibly large sample of special collections and archives and synthesized it in an incredibly interesting (and long) report, Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives. You’ll want to study it in all its detail, but for those pressed for time, Jackie distills the significant outcomes in a blog post that gives bulleted significant findings and bulleted recommendations. [She also blogged about what surprised her among the findings.] You might also like to read some background about this activity, including how it relates to the ARL study done in 1998.

What’s next? We’re deciding which of the recommendations we’ll take on and subtly suggesting to others those they might take on. All in the service of making those wonderful collections accessible and preserved for the ages.

If you’re itching for even more, check out this 3-page summary of the last five years of the RLG Partnership and OCLC Research.

Yours, Mine, Ours: or how to live happily ever after

Monday, September 27th, 2010 by Merrilee

On Monday and Tuesday close to 200 people (online and in person) gathered together to consider the topic of collaboration at our forum, Yours, Mine, Ours: Leadership Through Collaboration.

  • Powered by 22 speakers
  • Planned by 15 people
  • Aided by 4 sponsoring organizations
  • Hosted by the Smithsonian Institution

Yours, Mine, Ours: Leadership Through CollaborationView from the podium

If you glanced at the agenda and the lineup of speakers and topics, I’m sure you thought, “Wow, that must have been quite an event.” You would be right. I was one of three people asked to summarize the event (and was given only four minutes to speak!). It was tough to take two days of content, especially such rich content, and boil it down to something succinct, but I think I did a reasonably good job, so I’m sharing it with you all.
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Collaboration Contexts: Conclusions

Friday, August 6th, 2010 by Günter

This is the last in a series of posts on the Leadership through Collaboration Forum and the thinking that went into structuring the agenda. Before I conclude, I’d like to acknowledge that creating the forum agenda was a collaborative activity in and of itself – we’re grateful in particular to our host (The Smithsonian Institution), and to all of the RLG Partners on the planning group who contributed (you’ll see them listed at the bottom of this page). Additional support for the event came from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation – thank you!

Some final words on the collaboration contexts: It is important to remember that no one of the collaboration contexts (local, group, or global) is inherently better than the other. Each provides the appropriate framing for solving different types of issues. Within any of these three contexts, the collaboration can be very shallow or very deep.

Figure 1: The Collaboration Continuum (introduced in “Beyond the Silos of the LAMs: Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums” [pdf])

Moving along the collaboration continuum, collaborations which express themselves as contact, cooperation or coordination are additive; they foster a working relationship among partners, yet remain distinct projects easily separable from the core functions and workings of the institution. Such collaborations do not impact how an institution organizes itself and its workforce. Deeper collaborations trend toward convergence, a transformative process that eventually will change behaviors, processes and organizational structures, and leads to a fundamental interconnectedness and interdependence among the partners. In transformative collaborations, participants find efficiencies that free up time and resources to focus on the things they do best. At the extreme end of the continuum, convergence in a specific area may turn into infrastructure: a service that is so deeply embedded into our everyday life that it becomes visible only when it breaks down. You only think about who hosts your e-mail, or where your electricity comes from, when the service is interrupted.

The stages of contact, cooperation and coordination on the collaboration continuum are likely the prerequisites for reaping the benefits of deep collaboration and convergence. Within each of the local, group, and global collaboration contexts, additive or transformative relationships can emerge. For both the collaboration contexts and the stages of the collaboration continuum, each setting provides unique benefits and drawbacks. Finding the appropriate collaboration context for a given challenge, and building relationships along the continuum so all parties derive the maximum benefit, are hallmarks of successful long-term collaborations.

Collaboration Context: Global

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 by Günter

Our last panel of speakers during “Yours, Mine, Ours: Leadership through Collaboration“ focuses on global collaborations:

  • A Critical Take: How Do We Present Cultural Content to Our Users?
    Nick Poole, Chief Executive, Collections Trust
  • A Critical Take: How Do We Create and Maintain Standards?
    Eric Miller, President, Zepheira
  • A Critical Take: How Do We Source Our Tools?
    Chris Prom, Assistant University Archivist, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • In this segment of the forum, we acknowledge all of the activity which has already gone into collaborations benefiting the entire community. However, we also feel it is time to take a step back and re-assess whether our current behaviors in creating shared aggregations, standards and tools are serving us well in meeting user expectations at the network level.

    Here’s the background:

    Global Solutions – Common Values
    “Things work at scale because the community subscribes to the same values.”

    In local and group collaborations, institutions and their interests are at the forefront, and the collaborative activity is predicated on the direct local benefit reaped. A collaboration guided by common values introduces a notable paradigm shift. It does not put the institutions first, but rather focuses on the intended audience and what that audience expects us to deliver.

    While any type of collaboration can be fueled by common values, including those circumscribed by institutional boundaries or specific group interests, value-based collaboration emerges as a survival strategy in the global networked environment. Ultimately, we all serve those who want access to our information, increasingly in digital form. Collaboration around values is driven by a shared vision which allows an entire community to respond to challenges in a consistent manner, and invisibly aligns all of us in an effort to realize a shared vision. In this context, the emphasis shifts from managing the collaboration to addressing the shared values. The sphere of common values collaboration includes standards, policies for copyright and data aggregation, the commons and open data movements, and the vision of Linked Data.

    While common value collaborations may have the lowest direct overhead (parties do not have to remain in constant and carefully orchestrated communication to remain in sync), they may also be the most difficult to sell to parent institutions, which generally pay their employees to work on local issues. The institutional benefit of such collaborations is less tangible since they raise all ships. As a matter of fact, in some instances common value behaviors may be perceived as threatening local goals, such as policies and technical protocols for making institutional content freely and openly available in many different venues.

    At its best, applying global values that make things work in a larger context in group and local settings ultimately prepares those institutions for the opportunities of the networked environment. There’s benefit in thinking globally and acting locally.

    In the next (and final) post in this series on the collaboration contexts and how they’ve shaped the overall structure of the forum, we’ll revisit the popular collaboration continuum, first introduced in the Beyond the Silos of the LAMs [pdf] report.

    Collaboration Context: Group

    Thursday, July 29th, 2010 by Günter

    The following panelists will help us explore the ins and outs of group collaborations during “Yours, Mine, Ours: Leadership through Collaboration“:

  • Rob Stein, CIO, Indianapolis Museum of Art
    Collaboration Trials and Triumphs: ArtBabble, Steve, etc.
  • Tom Garnett, BHL Director, Smithsonian Institution
    Collaboration Trials and Triumphs: Biodiversity Heritage Library
  • John F. Helmer, Executive Director, Orbis Cascade Alliance
    Collaboration Trials and Triumphs: Northwest Digital Archives & Western Regional Storage Trust (WEST)
  • As with our previous panel on local solutions, the specific projects serve as exemplars for collaboration strategies which the audience will be able to apply to realizing their own ambitions. Speaking of which, we’ve made sure to have some time on the agenda where attendees can explore the implications of what they’ve heard in smaller group settings (see the Birds-of-a-Feather slots on Day 2). During online registration, people vote for specific topics they’d like to see covered in these facilitated discussion settings, such as single search (local), digital preservation (group) or open access (global).

    Here’s some background on group collaborations:

    Group Solutions – Common Interest
    “We work together because we have common interests.”

    Moving beyond the single institution, collaboration across organizational boundaries occurs when there is a common interest. A group of motivated individuals or institutions bands together to work on an issue they would have found difficult or impossible to solve in isolation. Many collaborative grant-funded projects fall into this category: a finite number of players tackle an issue that vexes participants in their own local contexts. Because the local benefit of this type of collaboration can be readily perceived, common interest collaborations are generally accepted as a way to achieve broad outcomes. In the sphere of group collaborations, we see activities such as open-source software development, subject-based data aggregations, and shared technological platforms such as HathiTrust.

    On the other hand, group collaborations around a common interest have a high management overhead for setting and managing expectations, dividing up the work, coordinating outputs from different groups, and staying on track. Different work cultures among a group’s participants can pose a serious threat to the most rationally conceived projects. Furthermore, participants’ interests may evolve in different directions; commonalities may dissipate over time.

    Since common interest collaborations rely on direct contact, meetings and constant negotiation, it is challenging to mount and manage them at scale. Once these collaborations mature, they often require the creation of new organizational structures such as governing boards or foundations.

    In the next post in this series, we’ll look at common value collaborations as a strategy for aligning the entire community.

    Collaboration Context: Local

    Monday, July 26th, 2010 by Günter

    “Local” is the first Collaboration Context we’ll explore at “Yours, Mine, Ours: Leadership through Collaboration.” Our panelists will be:

  • Ann Speyer, Chief Information Officer, Smithsonian Institution
  • Meg Bellinger, Director, Office of Digital Assets and Infrastructure, Yale University
  • Tom Hickerson, Vice-Provost, Libraries and Cultural Resources, University of Calgary
  • We’ve instructed all of our speakers to spend the bulk of their time on strategies for creating and deepening collaborations, and to focus both on successes and failures. (All of the presentations in this section are hence titled “Collaboration Trials and Triumphs”.) Here’s the background:

    Local Solutions – Common Administration
    “We work together because we have the same employer.”

    From the perspective of a large institution (e.g., a university campus) with many units (e.g., libraries, archives and museums), incorporating collaboration into the underlying work culture is foundational to realizing that institution’s potential and achieving its mission. When ideas, data and services flow freely, new solutions emerge, and new knowledge is created. From the perspective of individual units, collaboration allows them to thrive when times are good and survive when times are bad. Deep and pervasive service and data relationships with other units provide a compelling argument for continued or increased funding, whereas isolation calls into question the value provided to the institution as a whole.

    In highly distributed environments, deep collaboration requires conscious effort and leadership. Since both the institution and its constituent units directly reap the benefits of local collaboration, the context of common administration offers a straightforward environment for engaging in joint work. In the sphere of local solutions, we currently see activities such as cross-collection search, shared digitization and digital asset management, and shared conservation facilities.

    On the other hand, contemplating collaboration solely within the boundaries of your own institution is arbitrarily self-limiting. While there is no shortage of issues that beg to be addressed at the local level, some aspirations are simply beyond the reach of individual institutions acting alone.
    Group collaborations try to address that which transcends any single institution. Don’t try it abroad if you haven’t done it at home: in many instances, collaboration at the local level is likely to be a prerequisite for entering into meaningful collaborative activities centered on common interest.

    We’ll take a look at common interest collaborations in the next blog post. (Also take a peek at the initial post in this series if you haven’t already.) Stay tuned!

    Contexts for “Leadership through Collaboration” Forum

    Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 by Günter

    The LAM (library, archive, museum) workshops held by OCLC Research at Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Edinburgh, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Yale University intentionally focused on collaboration within a single institution. We expected that we would be able to find, as well as catalyze, deeper collaborations under an institutional umbrella than among institutions that don’t have an administrative structure in common. The projects the workshop sites committed themselves to (described in “Beyond the Silos of the LAMs” [pdf]) bear out this assumption.


    Yours, Mine, Ours: Leadership through Collaboration
    20-21 September 2010
    Smithsonian Institution, Ripley Center, Washington, D.C.
    Register here.

    Organized by the RLG Partnership and OCLC Research
    Hosted by the Smithsonian Institution
    Supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
    Endorsed by the Joint SAA, ALA and AAM Committee on Archives, Libraries & Museums (CALM)

    With this forum, we are intentionally broadening the conversation. While we continue to be passionate about library, archive, and museum collaboration (see my guest blogs at the Center for the Future of Museums here and here), we’ll now place the emphasis more on “collaboration” and just a tad less on “LAM.” Good collaborations in cultural heritage don’t always require all three of these parties to be present, and they often require additional parties (such as IT or public/private partners) to succeed.

    In addition, we are expanding our investigation beyond institutional boundaries to look at collaboration in the broader landscape. Collaborations can form in different settings: local (within a single institution), in a group setting, or in a seemingly unbounded environment that we’ll call “global.” These collaboration contexts provide the scaffolding for our Leadership through Collaboration forum, which features panels (take a look at the agenda) exploring each of these contexts in greater depth. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll post a series of blogs which attempt to sketch out the benefits and limitations inherent in each of these settings as a high-level guide to the trajectory of our event, as well as a resource in its own right for assessing collaborative activities. Stay tuned!

    All futured out: UK public funding and risks to libraries

    Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 by John

    The future, it seems, has never been as popular as it as at the present time. We talk, think and write about it endlessly. The transformations in the world we live in over the past few decades have induced so much uncertainty that we look to the future because we crave a place where certainty and sureness return. As librarians, curators and archivists, of course, it is a professional duty to keep looking at the future in order to plan ahead, to prioritise, to make maximum impact from available resource and to prove that we manage well. But the current preoccupation with prediction goes much further. It seems likely that we are living through the most future-obsessed era our profession has ever experienced.

    My first awareness that librarianship was a profession deeply concerned about its future was with the publication of James Thompson’s The end of libraries, in 1982, which was still a relatively recent work when I first went to library school. Thompson, University Librarian at the University of Reading, was interested in library technology and its potential to liberate libraries from what he saw as a paralysed state of continual growth unrelated to use. In an article of the same title as his book which was published in the then new journal The electronic library the following year he wrote:

    One way to by-pass problems would of course be to store in the electronic memory not just the surrogate references, but the full text of the documents.

    He didn’t imagine Google, but he did perhaps foresee the changes which are now underway, though he would doubtless have been surprised that they would take 30 years to occur. If the changes have been slow, the pace of future-gazing has intensified over these 30 years, and seems to be currently experiencing rocket thrust. On a recent visit to the National Library of Scotland, I was given a copy of its new discussion document Thriving or surviving? National Library of Scotland in 2030. The National Library of Wales has been less daring by ten years, producing Twenty-twenty: a long view of the National Library of Wales. Both institutions are taking on the challenge of providing national library services within a new sector – what the Scottish report calls small, smart countries. Read the rest of this entry »

    A case study of supply-driven product development

    Monday, March 22nd, 2010 by Jim

    There’s a very clear-headed reflection on the development of the Archivist’s Toolkit in the most recent Code4Lib journal. Challenges in Sustainable Open Source: A Case Study was written by Sibyl Schaefer who worked on the project. She does the kind of brave, objective reflection on the product’s development that isn’t often done in our domain.

    It reminded me of the recent post that Lorcan did on the Ithaka report called Sustainability and revenue models for online academic resources PDF where he quotes the report saying

    “The absence of focused effort on use, impact, and competition among these types of projects has deep implications for their potential long-term success.”

    Lorcan goes on to characterize one of the further sustainability issues

    “much project work is supply-driven rather than demand-driven. Project leaders, they suggest, tend to focus on the inherent values of their work rather than on what might be of most importance to their intended users.”

    For a comparably brave and objective reflection from a former product manager and current colleague see Ricky Erway’s post on Desperately Seeking Sustainability.

    OCLC Research @ University of Calgary

    Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 by Günter

    As those of you who have listened to Tom Hickerson’s Distinguished Seminar Series lecture will know, the University of Calgary has embarked on an ambitious plan of integrating their libraries, archives and museums under a single administrative umbrella (Libraries & Cultural Resources or LCR). This convergence is catalyzed by a new building in the heart of the university’s campus, which will co-locate the units as well as many campus research, teaching & learning support functions. In latest news, last week a reorganization of LCR was announced to realign the staff with emerging priorities. The University of Calgary is our latest addition to the roster of institutions participating in the RLG Partnership, and to make proper mutual introductions, a team from OCLC Research visited Calgary last week.

    In conversations preparing for our trip, we were asked to make a contribution in moving LAM integration at the university forward, and in particular, to focus on Calgary’s ambitions to create a single search across LCR resources. (Calgary currently experiments with Summon for single search – watch an introduction here). Our agenda (inspired by our LAM workshops) called for a broad discussion establishing key features for single search, followed by sessions focused on how archives, metadata services/libraries and museums can contribute to these features and the overarching goal of single search. You’ll find the presentation we used to set the scene for the single search discussions here – it also contains a number of examples from other institutions who have ventured down this path, including the Victoria & Albert, Yale & the Smithsonian.
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