In March 2017, the BC Museums Association, Archives Association of BC and the BC Library Association signed an MOU agreeing to work together under a shared set of values. This was a historic event, the first time in Canada that GLAM sector organizations formally agreed to work together.
The collaboration is a good fit but not necessarily a natural or historic fit; it was the result of years of conversations between the organizations and consultation between members at each other’s conferences. Despite the fact that galleries, libraries, archives and museums often share many of the same values, share the same audiences, face the same issues and often are influencing the same important stakeholders and donors we each see ourselves as unique. Though our audiences might not agree with this – the family that goes to library programming on a weekend is often the same one that will check out a new exhibition or gallery show and visit their local archives for their school family history project. To many, we look very similar.
Since signing the MOU, and as a first step in the partnership, the three organizations have provided member benefits across the board: a BCMA member can now attend an AABC or BCLA event or conference at a reduced rate. Last year the three organizations held a sold-out GLAM symposium and agreed this will become an annual event. This year’s symposium will be held on Wednesday May 8th from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel in Surrey. The theme is Here and Now: Practical Ideas, Local Solutions and it will be an opportunity for learning, hearing about GLAM partnerships happening across the province and connecting with new colleague from across our sectors. Look for registration and a full schedule soon.
BC’s partnership has spawned interest across the province and other institutions have done similarly, the respective federal GLAM organizations have also begun organizing events together for each of their members.
We’ve started strong building on the GLAM collaborations that are already happening across the province. Next steps: perhaps widening the tent with other GLAM or related organizations, partnering with STEM organizations, shared advocacy or joint projects. When we collaborate, we are so much stronger than when we stand on our own.
David Alexander is the Head of Archives, Access and Digital at the Royal BC Museum and the Past President of the BC Museums Association.