Discussion Topic: GLAM – Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums

Photo: "Glam-o-rama" by Garry Dincher CC-BY-SA 2.0

Photo: “Glam-o-rama” by Garry Dincher CC-BY-SA 2.0

Libraries love acronyms. At my place of work we have a multitude of them – shortening the names of teams, systems, documents and services – but also turning our workplace conversations into a strange code. This code creates a shared language that saves time for those on the ‘inside’ but also make our world impenetrable for outsiders. For the next two weeks, we aim to cast some light on one of these acronyms  and explore the world of GLAM.

GLAM  stands for Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. It is used to describe the cultural heritage sector as a whole and particularly to highlight the many things that connect these different kinds of organisations together. The parallels are most obvious when viewed on the scale of large cultural institutions – such as state/national art galleries, libraries, archives and museums where each organisation  can have defined, interconnected roles in collecting, curating, preserving and sharing  pieces of their community’s cultural heritage material. However there are many smaller parallels that can create connections across the GLAM sector.

Although they operate in different contexts, Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums all undertake collection activities such as acquisitions, preservation and maintenance, even de-acquisitions. All of these kinds of organisations  also play a role in connecting communities with cultural heritage in some way – be it through art, information, historical documents or objects. There are shared challenges across the sector,  for example, many different types of  GLAM organisations are grappling with the challenge of how communities access and engage with digital  content and services. There are shared opportunities too: opportunities for sharing knowledge and learning from one another, but also opportunities for cross-institutional projects drawing on  different kinds of expertise.

For the next two weeks, we will be exploring all things GLAM. We will be hosting guest posts from across the GLAM sector and highlighting some interesting GLAM projects.

If you are participating in our current round, some questions you might like to discuss with your partner are:

  • What do you think of the term GLAM? Does it apply to your organisation?
  • What do you think is similar about working in a library to working in gallery, archive or museum? What is different?
  • Have you ever been involved in a cross-GLAM collaboration? What was that like?

We encourage you to share your thoughts about this topic with the wider ILN community  via our Twitter or Facebook pages, or in the comments section below.

Posted in Discussion topics, Round 2015A and tagged , , , , .


  1. thanks for featuring GLAM as one of the topics for conversation, I would like to share my experience as one of the founder of a creative space in our province here in the Philippines – named Espasyo (Space) Siningdikato (Art Syndicate) CreatiVENUE (http://espasyo-siningdikato.blogspot.com/) . Our alternative space served as an art gallery, a makerspace for the creative minds as well as an abode for intellectual discussion. For instance, we had organized a forum on intellectual property rights for the creative writers (http://filcols.blogspot.com/2011/05/post-event-filcols-huntahan-sa-cavite.html), a book making and comic writing workshops among others. We’re doing all these things for free. And we’re very happy that we always find generous partners to help us in realizing our dreams. Likewise, we’re also doing the same thing in our University library. We have a gallery in the library where we featured institutional achievements, student research output, community artists, and international linkages. Most of the time we coordinated with the Archives section especially when we had a series of exhibitions in celebration of the 100 years of Lasallian education in the Philippines. We featured 100 student achievers, 100 best researches, etc. With regard to partnership with University museum (http://www.dlsud.edu.ph/museo/), we have a very close relationship with our museum as we both belong to cultural heritage complex. The museum lend us some 19th century furniture for our interior design and they likewise invite us whenever they organized preservation seminar-workshops. In return, we help them catalog and classify their book collection. GLAM should help each other for sustainability.

    • This is wonderful Mary Ann – inspiring to hear of your work! Thank you so much for sharing. It’s amazing what we can achieve when we work together across the sector.

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