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also play a role in connecting communities with cultural heritage in some way – be it through art, information, historical documents or objects.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?