Spanning Boundaries

Spanning Our Field Boundaries

Spanning our field boundaries Educopia InstituteThe Mapping the Landscapes project team is a cross-sector collaboration among archives, libraries, and museums working through the Coalition and funded by IMLS. In October 2015, the team published its first work – Spanning Our Field Boundaries: Mindfully Managing LAM Collaboration.

This publication documents both real and perceived boundaries that impact our ability to collaborate across the wide variety of organizations in the fields (and their myriad sub-fields), including organizational sizes and governance structures, staffing and funding levels, acronyms and vocabularies, disciplinary specialties and user communities served.


Commonalities and Differences Across Sectors

As the representatives from the three sectors― archives, libraries and museums―sought to work together, it was important to recognize and appreciate the considerable diversity these organizations brought to the table, as well as their common purpose and intentions.

Using a large visual diagram of a tree, groups of representatives from each sector charted the values and principles that drive their institutions (roots), the needs and problems that each community of practice seeks to address (trunk), and the outcomes of their work (canopy).

A group discussion of commonalities and differences across sectors quickly led to the identification of a continuum of attributes that are universal (true for all); shared (true for some groups but not all, either two of the three sectors, or sub-sectors among the three); or unique (true or of distinct importance for only one sector). This framework is presented in the table below, with more detail described in this summary of the discussion.

Characteristics shared and distinct across archives libraries and museums.


Universal, shared, and distinct characteristics identified in a Coalition exercise in March 2015.