The LAM Collaboration Quadrant

LAM Collaboration QuadrantI’ve blogged on a number of occasions about our project to move library, archive and museum collaboration in a campus (or campus-like) environment forward. The last time I wrote about it, I highlighted Lawrence Lessig’s “modalities of constraint” as a way of analyzing how to effect change. Today I’d like to share another tool which we’ll introduce during the scene-setting presentation of our day-long visits at five institutions across the US and UK. Internally, we’re calling it the “keeping everybody honest” tool. (By the way, it’ll look much nicer once our colleagues in Dublin have prettyfied this graphic.)

Collaborative activities exist on a continuum of low investment / reward to high investment / reward. Deep collaboration around shared functions leads to long term and transformative change within each of the participating institutions. However, collaboration also asks that you invest your trust, time and resources, as well as a spirit of compromise. The quadrants on the right most exemplify the idea of deep collaboration. A joint trusted digital repository, to use a time-honored example, would likely be an activity located in the upper right quadrant.

The quadrants on the left could be characterized as surface-level cooperation, rather than deep collaboration. The quadrant on the lower left best exemplifies the spirit of surface cooperation. Cooperation around common needs requires less investment, but you also reap less of a reward. Working together on an exhibition, for example, would likely be an activity located in the lower left quadrant.

Mind you, that doesn’t mean that digital preservation (or the upper right quadrant) is inherently a superior step in working together to joint exhibitions (or the lower left quadrant). However, the graphic allows us to have a conversation about what’s ventured and gained, and in that way, it should keep us honest about what we’re investing, and what we’re likely to get out of our efforts.

We’re hoping to use this tool during our LAM workshops to evaluate ideas proposed by the participants – locating ideas for joint work on the quadrants will give us a better a way of talking through the perceived scope and long-term merits of a project.

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