Keeping CALM - Cooperation, Collaboration, Convergence

by Charlene Hsu Gross

One of the benefits of participating in the 2010 cohort of ALA’s Emerging Leaders is making new connections with committees within ALA. Along with four other group members, I have the privilege of working on a project for CALM, the Committee on Archives, Libraries and Museums.

CALM is the joint committee of three national professional associations: American Library Association (ALA), Society of American Archivists (SAA), and American Association of Museums (AAM) . Each organization associates itself with “CALM” accepts the charge

1) To foster and develop ways and means of effecting closer cooperation among the organizations; (2) encourage the establishment of common standards; (3) undertake such activities as are assigned to the committee by either of its parent bodies; (4) initiate programs of a relevant and timely nature at the annual meetings of one or more parent bodies either through direct Combined Committee sponsorship or by forwarding particular program plans to the appropriate unit of one or more parent bodies for action; and (5) refer matters of common concern to appropriate committees of ALA, SAA or AAM.

(Retrieved April 12, 2010 from )

Although the history of the committee goes back to 1970 as a special committee between ALA and SAA, the functions were revised in January 2003 to welcome AAM, recognizing the significance of joining all three organizations into an alliance.

The committee charge above recognizes that

The common purpose of libraries, archives and museums is to acquire, preserve, and promote the use and appreciation of collections that document the range of human expression, experience and knowledge.

(Retrieved April 12, 2010 from )

In this age of digital convergence, it has been a worthy undertaking that the organizations promote cooperation, collaboration, and even the potential for actual convergence, beginning with stronger communication and sharing common standards, goals, and programs for the benefit of all. This continued conversation is imperative for LIS students and new professionals who are often already working across the dividing lines in new and fresh ways.

For more information, see CALM’s Delicious listings on “convergence literature” , CALM’s Delicious listings on “standards and best practices” related to LAMs , and the CALM Wiki developed by the 2008 Emerging Leaders team.

Beyond the Silos of the LAMs
"Beyond the Silos of the LAMs: Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums” by Diane Zorich, Günter Waibel, and Ricky Erway, a publication of OCLC Research  has continued to be a notable paper regarding collaboration among LAMs. It’s a hefty yet accessible paper that gives us "The Collaboration Continuum” ("Beyond the Silos,” Figure 1, p. 11) and a meaningful articulation of stages in the continuum from simple interactions to complex, systemic integration (i.e, “contact” to “convergence”). The paper reports on the Library, Archive and Museum Collaboration project by OCLC’s RLG Programs which began in 2007. It involved five campus-based collaborative projects at the following sites

* University of Edinburgh
* Princeton University
* Smithsonian Institution
* Victoria and Albert Museum
* Yale University

One exciting thing to consider is that

The goal of the program was threefold: to explore the nature of library, archive and museum (LAM) collaborations, to help LAMs collaborate on common services and thus yield greater productivity within their institutions, and to assist them in creating research environments better aligned with user expectations—or, to reference this report’s title, to move beyond the often-mentioned silos of LAM resources which divide content into piecemeal offerings.” (“Beyond the Silos,” p. 8)

"Beyond the Silos” also includes project methodology and other appendices that contribute to the ongoing conversation along with the hope that others will duplicate projects in other settings. I highly recommend this paper as a primer to anyone interested in collaboration among LAMs. Many of you are already working in or desire to work in settings that foster and develop this kind of deep collaboration among libraries, archives, and museums. In this paper, I am struck by the challenge that “the next step must involve collaboration-minded subsets of LAMs defining a concrete common vision.” (“Beyond the Silos,” p. 6) I would like to be part of the next step.

Digital Convergence
Another resource to appraise for continuing in the conversation is the fantastic collaborative effort completed by Dr. Paul F. Marty, Guest Editor, the many contributors, and the editors of Library Quarterly, Archival Science, and Museum Management and Curatorship. Three special issues (one for each journal) were published within the last year and a half focused on

exploring the shared information needs and challenges facing libraries, archives, and museums in the information age; the overlapping educational goals of library and information science, archival studies, and museum studies programs; and areas of convergence for educators and professionals working to meet user needs in libraries, archives, and museums. (1)

As Dr. Marty indicates in the introduction to all three issues, the idea that propelled the many efforts for these special issues was digital convergence. Within LAMs today, professionals recognize that the traditional distinctions between the organizations are increasingly fuzzier, and the challenge is to find ways to “collaborate and combine forces to better serve their users.” (2)

It’s a wide and wonderful world for libraries, archives, museums and their constituencies. I hope to meet you out there and invite you to collaborate alongside me.

Works Cited
American Library Association. Committee on Archives, Libraries and Museums (CALM). 2010. 12 Apr. 2010.
Archival Science, vol. 8, no. 4, 2008
Marty, Paul. "An Introduction to Digital Convergence: Libraries, Archives, and Museums in the Information Age." Library Quarterly 80.1 (2010): 1-5.
Museum Management and Curatorship, vol. 24, no. 4, 2009.
Zorich, Diane, Günter Waibel and Ricky Erway, 2008. Beyond the silos of the LAMs: collaboration among libraries, archives and museums. Report produced by OCLC Research.