Collective Wisdom: Libraries, Archives, and Museums (LAM) Conference Exchange

From March through December of 2016, the Collective Wisdom: LAM Conference Exchange program brought together 18 librarians, archivists and museum professionals to form a cohort charged with exploring cross-sector practices and culture with an eye toward increasing interdisciplinary collaboration for continuing education and professional development (CE/PD). In a very short time, the Collective Wisdom cohort not only met, but exceeded, original expectations and provided proof of concept of the value of bringing together professionals with a diverse range of expertise and an interest in cross-sector engagement from each of the LAM sectors.

As their primary venue of investigation, selected cohort members attended three major LAM sector conferences― AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, ALA Annual 2016 and Archives*Records 2016. They also connected through a virtual learning community, ultimately pooling their collective experiences and insights from the variety of organizations they represent in Collective Wisdom: An Exploration of Library, Archives and Museum Cultures. The aim of this white paper is to capture cohort members’ observations on the general state of libraries, archives and museums; reflect on potential challenges and opportunities for LAM collaboration and shared learning; and to share general lessons learned and outcomes of the cohort experience.

*Funding for conference travel expenses was made available for 12 of the cohort members through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Coalition to Advance Learning in Archives, Libraries and Museums.

Mapping the Landscapes

Little common data across the LAM fields are currently bench-marked, collected or circulated about professionals’ continuing education/professional development needs. This has created gaps in knowledge and documentation, leaving some potential collaborative opportunities unknown. Mapping the Landscapes is a comprehensive effort to use focus groups and a national survey to span across America’s diverse library, archives, and museum sectors to establish a national picture of professional competencies and benchmarks, attitudes toward CE/PD, engagement patterns, and drivers and barriers for participation. Funded through an IMLS grant award in March 2015, the Educopia Institute facilitates a team of 38 partner organizations who lead the effort.

Project publications include:

Data gathered through surveys and focus groups:

Sector CE/PD Supply Analysis

Supply Analysis Project Report (October 2016) summarizes findings from a study of trends in the supply of continuing education/professional development in the cultural heritage community. The trends were gathered from interviews with education leaders at six institutions from the museum, library and archives sectors.  Key trends identified include the need for further work on education program evaluation and programmatic sustainability issues.

Cross-Sector Residency

Exploring a cross-sector residency program for Professionals in Libraries, archives, and museums (October 2015), a report prepared by Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and an Advisory Group, summarizes the synergies and opportunities to develop cross-sector (libraries, archives, museums—LAMs) professional development/continuing education programs for respective communities and workforces. Based on high-level research that surfaces informed perspectives from knowledgeable professionals across the LAMs, the report posits four frameworks as examples that might stimulate the development of cross-sector residency programs.

Stories of Inclusion: Inclusive Practices at Cultural Institutions Webinar Suite

Today, people with disabilities represent the largest minority group in our country, comprising upwards of 56 million Americans. In October 2015, the Coalition helped support a three-part webcast series on accessibility and inclusion. Offered by the American Alliance of Museums, and attended by a cross-sector audience of archives, libraries, and museums, the webcast series explored access and inclusion from the perspective of visitors, staff, and facility or program users in LAMs and other cultural institutions.

Project Management 101 Webinars

In February 2015, Coalition participants delivered a two-part webinar series on Project Management 101 intended to reach a broad cross-sector audience on a topic of shared interest. Over 1,400 people registered to attend the webinars, with solid representation across the three sectors. Data gathered in pre- and post-surveys indicated an increase in positive attitudes toward cross-sector learning. The success of the series affirmed that some topics not only appeal to a multi-sector audience, but benefit from perspectives and experiences of participants across the archives, libraries and museums fields.