Beyond the Silos of the LAMs

The last couple of weeks have been busy and gratifying for the team working on library, archive and museum convergence issues. We’ve now published our final report capping a year-long investigation into LAMs in a campus environment – you’ll find it here (.pdf: 334K/59 pp). We tried out the title “Beyond the Silos of the LAMs” during various presentations and meetings at SAA, and word percolated all the way into Facebook. Our friend Chris Freeland from the Missouri Botanical Garden posted: “Eagerly awaiting the “Silos of the LAMs” (Libraries, Archives, Museums) RLG paper! Best. Title. Ever.” We can only hope that the reviews of the content will be equally enthusiastic.

Incidentally, last week also brought good news from institutions we’ve visited as part of our investigation. The Smithsonian announced that they’ll put the 137 million objects in their (upwards of) two dozen collecting units online. As you’ll be able to read in our report, the Smithsonian workshop led to recommendations for the “creation of an internal single point of access to all Smithsonian collections information for staff” and “comprehensive digitization and access…for unencumbered photographic collections.” The Smithsonian was the first institution we’ve visited, and in the time that has passed since their October 2007 workshop, they’ve upgraded their aspirations from an internal to a public system, and from a single format (photography) to institution-wide digitization. I was thrilled to hear about this development, and hope that our colleagues at SI can find the funding to make rapid progress on this lofty goal.

From Yale, we’ve heard about the creation of a new 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, who was the bearer of these glad tidings, will be the director of this new office. One of the recommendations from our Yale workshop was the creation of an entity which would have among its responsibilities “planning a shared information architecture for cross-collection services (such as digital preservation and integrated access to collections information).” It’s nice to think that our workshop played a small role in shoring up the support for this important new office as a nexus of collaboration on campus.

Next year, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from many of the workshop participants in person. The Committee on Archives, Libraries and Museums (CALM) has endorsed a series of panel presentations at ALA, SAA and AAM during 2009, which will give workshop participants from University of Edinburgh, Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Yale University a platform to share the progress their institutions have made in aligning the efforts of their collecting units to provide a better experience for their respective audiences. Until then, you’ll have to make do with the report!