Global migration is here to stay
Traditionally, museums and libraries developed as historically separate institutional contexts and distinct cultures. Trant2 noted how philosophies and policies of museums and libraries reflect their different approach to interpreting, collecting, preserving and providing access to objects in their care. Bishoff remarked that ‘libraries believe in resource sharing, are committed to freely available information, value the preservation of collections, and focus on access to information. Museums believe in preservation of collections, often create their identity based on these collections, are committed to community education, and frequently operate in a strongly competitive environment’3. In the last century policy makers have attempted to group and bridge these communities of practices through ‘their similar role as part of the informal educational structures supported by the public, and their common governance’4. Such commonalities are increasingly important to the sustainability of museums, libraries (and archives) in a globalised world. However a theoretical framework to scope and address such collaborative models still needs to be developed. This is particularly urgent in the specific context of our transnational and multicultural societies.
One of the goals of the recently funded EU FP7 SSH MeLa Project5 is to fill this gap by investigating, identifying and proposing innovative coordination strategies between public European museums, libraries and public cultural institutions, for the benefit of multicultural audiences and towards European integration and European cultural commons 6. The idea of laying the foundations for a European network of museums, libraries and public cultural institutions that address globalisation, migration and new media is particularly fitting for the configuration of migrant communities, which ‘in the receiving countries can best be described from a structural perspective as a network of organizations.’7
In the first phase of our MeLa research, we have been focusing in particular on collaborations between museums and libraries. Some studies in this area8 have highlighted the benefits of joining forces and resources in a variety of areas, including but not limited to:
The overall opportunities for improving collections, increasing the number of users, leveraging experiences and funding also represent some of the main benefit of such partnerships. These studies also often included archives as a third player in museums and archives collaborations. The aims and objectives of collaboration projects between museums and libraries that have been investigated in previous studies, include: educational focus (e.g. learning about past civilisations, encourage families learning together etc.), cross-over visits between institutions, promoting resources to various target groups, improving coordination between institutions, demonstrating joint working or training activities, providing models for working practices.
The International Federation of Libraries Association (IFLA) remarked that museums and libraries would indeed be natural partners for collaboration and cooperation9. In this context, a study in the United States observed that ‘collaboration may enable […] museums and libraries to strengthen their public standing, improve their services and programs, and better meet the needs of a larger and more diverse cross-sections of learners.’10 The nature of this collaboration can be multifaceted and varied, and the terminology lends itself to diverse meanings, in particular regarding the degree of intensity of the collaboration and its transformational capacity. Gibson, Morris and Cleeve noted that ‘“Library-museum collaboration” can be defined as the cooperation between a library and a museum, possibly involving other partners. […].’11 Here, the authors use the term ‘collaboration’ with the meaning indicated by Diamant-Cohen and Sherman, as a ‘more involved cooperation where there is a more in-depth sharing and pooling of resources.’12
Museums and libraries seem well positioned to synergically support and enable multicultural identities of migration societies. 13 As a result, museums are ideally placed to interpret and preserve culturally diverse heritage.14 As centres for culture, information hubs, learning and gathering, libraries seemingly represent service providers for culturally diverse communities, enabling inter-cultural dialogue and education while supporting and promoting diversity.15
Nevertheless, the fruitful convergence between museums and libraries faces a number of challenges. Some authors16 have highlighted the risks and obstacles encountered on the road to establish a successful collaboration between museums and libraries with respect to their different missions, cultures, organisational and funding structures. In terms of change management, Zorich, Waibel, Erway suggested that it is important to differentiate between coordination and cooperation, and pointing to the organisational changes required for a deep collaboration between libraries, museums and archives17. In particular for collaboration on digital libraries, Bishoff18 and Innocenti et alii19 remarked that interoperability is critical to the digital library community. Innocenti et alii further stressed the diverse organisational, semantic and technical interoperability levels that need to be addressed in a digital library, using the classification of the European Interoperability Framework for eGovernment services.20 Achieving effective organisational interoperability between digital libraries can imply a radical change in the way that organisations work, manage and share their digital assets.
In the MeLA project, the ongoing research programme on a Network of Museums, Libraries and Public Cultural Institutions is articulated through a series of enquiries that intend to:
The results of this research will be made available in three books (a source book, proceedings of an international conference21 and a reference book), including a coordination framework and policy briefs for the museum Community, policy makers and for European Commission. It is our wish that this coordination framework will contribute to new collaborative models of museums and libraries, testing the possibility of a European ‘imagined community’22 and the idea of European cultural commons, encompassing both cultural and scientific expressions and artefacts.
At the DH 2012 Conference we are presenting an overview of the desk and field investigation on selected case studies, organised in four thematic clusters: Collaboration models, European cultural and scientific heritage, Migration and mobility, Narratives for Europe. Each cluster includes case studies articulated in primary, secondary and tertiary level, with additional information from an online survey on museum collaborations with libraries and public cultural institutions.23 Areas of collaboration explored in our research include the core activities of archiving, preserving and framing memory and the associated categories of hierarchies of cultural value and historical identity. The geographic coverage comprises trans-national and trans-local connections of museums and libraries, to allow more flexible and heterogenic connections to be considered, both within Europe – where for example public libraries are at the forefront of leading initiatives addressing multicultural diversity – and outside its assumed confines (for example the Mediterranean), also in terms of European Union legitimacy and identity.24 We will provide an overview of differences and current tension points between museums, libraries and public cultural institutions investigated in our research, and will discusssome initial suggestions on how they may overcome the challenges built into their infrastructure25 and manage the change conveyed by collaborations and use of ICTs.
Within the MeLa project, we are investigating innovative coordination strategies of transnational European museums, libraries and public cultural institutions, for the benefit of multicultural audiences and towards European integration and European cultural commons. Our research aims to provide evidence of collaborations and networks that can positively impact on the visibility of institutions involved, the improvement of the diffusion and accessibility of the collections, the effectiveness of an integrated organisational structure at European level and the coherence with European policies towards a common cultural and scientific heritage definition. We expect that the results of our investigation, which will continue through 2013, will contribute to the advancement of knowledge in this area, to provide museums, libraries and public cultural institutions with collaboration model framework, and to shaping European policies on multiculturalism and migration.
This work was supported by the European Commission within the MeLA – European Museums and Libraries in/of the Age of Migration, EU co-funded FP7 Collaborative Project, SSH-2010-5.2-2, 2011-2014 [Grant Agreement No. 266757].
1.Kjeldstadli, Knut (2010). Concepts of nation – and tasks of libraries, Keynote speech at IFLA Section Library Services to Multicultural Populations, IFLA Satellite Meeting, Copenhagen, 17-18 August 2010.
2.Trant, Jennife (2004). Emerging convergence? Thoughts on museums, archives, libraries, and professional training. Museum Management and Curatorship 24(4): 369-387.
3.Bishoff, Liz (2004). The Collaboration Imperative. Library Journal, 2004. Accessed August 16, 2011. http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA371048.html.
4.Trant, Jennifer (2004). Emerging convergence? Thoughts on museums, archives, libraries, and professional training. Museum Management and Curatorship 24(4): 369.
5.MeLa – European Museums in an Age of Migrations, http://www.mela-project.eu/. The work presented in this paper is being conducted within ‘MeLa Research Field 03 – Network of Museums, Libraries and Public Cultural Institutions.’ http://wp3.mela-project.eu/. Last accessed September 23, 2011. MeLa Research Field 03 is led by History of Art at the University of Glasgow (GU); the research team include staff members from Politecnico di Milano, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle/Musée de l’Homme, The Royal College of Art, L’Orientale University of Naples.
6.The definition ‘European Cultural Commons’ has been recently used in relation to digital content within the European Cultural Commons conference (europeanculturalcommons.eventbrite.com, videos at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE244178708CBB62C) organised by Europeana on October 12, 2011. Europeana, an initiative endorsed by the European Commission, is a single access point to millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records that have been digitised throughout Europe. In this paper we are using the definition in a wider and more general meaning.
7.Faist, Thomas (1998). Transnational social spaces out of the international migration: evolution, significance and future prospects. Archives Européennes de Sociologie 39: 213-247.
8.See for example: Hannah Gibson, Anne Morris and Marigold Cleeve (2007). Links between Libraries and Museums: Investigating Museum-Library Collaboration in England and the USA. Libri (57): 53-64. Accessed August 16, 2011 www.librijournal.org/pdf/2007-2pp53-64.pdf; Diane M. Zorich, Gunter Waibel, and Ricky Erway. Beyond the Silos of the LAMs: Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums. Report produced for OCLC Research, 2008. Accessed August 16, 2011 www.oclc.org/research/publications/library/2008/2008-05.pdf; Alexandra Yarrow, Barbara Clubb, and Jennifer-Lynn Draper. Public Libraries, Archives and Museums: Trends in Collaboration and Cooperation. The Hague: IFLA Headquarters, 2008. Accessed August 16, 2011 www.ifla.org/VII/s8/pub/Profrep108.pdf . The WP3 team is preparing a selected bibliography for the purpose of the workpackage activities.
9.Yarrow, Alexandra, Barbara Clubb and Jennifer-Lynn Draper. Public Libraries, Archives and Museums: Trends in Collaboration and Cooperation. IFLA Professional Reports N. 108. The Hague: IFLA Headquarters, 2008. Accessed August 16, 2011 www.ifla.org/VII/s8/pub/Profrep108.pdf.
10.Charting the Landscape, Mapping New Paths: Museums, Libraries, and K-12 Learning. Institute of Museum and Library Services. Aug. 2004. Accessed August 16, 2011 http://www.imls.gov/assets/1/AssetManager/Charting_the_Landscape.pdf
11.Gibson, Hannah, Anne Morris and Marigold Cleeve. Links between Libraries and Museums: Investigating Museum-Library Collaboration in England and the USA. Libri (57) 2007: 53-64. Accessed August 16, 2011, p.53 www.librijournal.org/pdf/2007-2pp53-64.pdf.
12.Diamant-Cohen, Betsy, and Dina Sherman. Hand in Hand: Museums and Libraries Working Together. Public Libraries 42.2 (Mar./Apr. 2003): 102-105.
13.The definition of culture I am looking at can be found in the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity: ‘culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs’ (UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. UNESCO: 2002. Last accessed 18 August 2011, http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001271/127160m.pdf). In this paper the terms “multicultural”, “multiculturalism” and “cultural diversity” are considered synonymous.
14. See for example Barker, Emma, ed. Contemporary Cultures of Display. London: Yale UP 1999; Bennett, Tony, The Birth of the Museum. History, Theory, Politics. London & New York NY: Routledge, 2009. Gonzalez, Jennifer A. Subject to Display. Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 2008. Graham, Beryl, and Sarah Cook Rethinking Curating. Art after New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 2010. Karp, Ivan, et al., eds. Museum Frictions. Public Cultures/ Global Transformations. Durham, NC, London: Duke UP 2006. Knell, Simon J., et al., eds. Museum Revolutions. How Museums Change and Are Changed. London, New York NY: Routledge 2007.
15.IFLA – Library Services to Multicultural Populations Section (ed.) The IFLA Multicultural Library Manifesto: The Multicultural Library. 2006. Accessed 18 August 2011: http://www.ifla.org/VII/s32/pub/MulticulturalLibraryManifesto.pdf.
16.Gibson, Hannah, Anne Morris and Marigold Cleeve. Links between Libraries and Museums: Investigating Museum-Library Collaboration in England and the USA. Libri (57) 2007: 53-64. Accessed August 16, 2011 www.librijournal.org/pdf/2007-2pp53-64.pdf; Walker, Christopher, and Carlos A. Manjarrez. Partnerships for Free Choice Learning: Public Libraries, Museums and Public Broadcasters Working Together. The Urban Institute and Urban Libraries Council. 2004. 22 May 2008 http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/410661_partnerships_for_free_choice_learning.pdf.
17.Zorich, Diane M., Waibel Gunter and Ricky Erway. “Beyond the Silos of the LAMs: Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums”. Report produced for OCLC Research, 2008. Accessed August 16, 2011, p. 5, www.oclc.org/research/publications/library/2008/2008-05.pdf.
18.Bishoff, Liz. “The Collaboration Imperative”. Library Journal, 2004. Accessed August 16, 2011 http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA371048.html
19.Innocenti, Perla, MacKenzie Smith, Kevin Ashley, Seamus Ross, Antonella De Robbio, Hans Pfeiffenberger, John Faundeen. Towards a Holistic Approach to Policy Interoperabilityin Digital Libraries and Digital Repositories. The International Journal of Digital Curation 6 (2011): 1, accessed August 16, 2011, http://ijdc.net/index.php/ijdc/article/view/167/235
20.IDABC. “ European interoperability framework for pan-European eGovernment services”. Luxembourg: European Commission 2004.
21.More information on the forthcoming International Conference for MeLa Research Field 03 are available at http://wp3.mela-project.eu/wp/pages/research-field-03-international-conference.
22.For the concept of ‘imagined communities’ see the seminal book by Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origina and Spread of Nationalism, Verso, London and New York, new edition 2006.
23.Research Field 03: Online Survey, http://wp3.mela-project.eu/wp/pages/research-field-03-online-survey. Accessed March 12, 2012.
24.See for example Fuchs, Dieter and Andrea Schlenker. “European Identity and the Legitimacy of the EU“. EU FP6 Consent Network of Excellence, 2006. Last accessed September 23, 2011. www.eu-consent.net/click_download.asp?contentid=1258.
25.Karp, Ivan, et al., eds. Museum Frictions. Public Cultures/ Global Transformations. Durham NC & London: Duke University Press, 2006.