• LAM Convergence in the Real World

    (This proposal goes both for me and my colleague, archivist Lance Stuchell.)

    Visitors and users of our cultural heritage materials generally don’t care whether the artifacts they’re encountering are from a library, archives, or museum.  But each kind of material and each profession that stewards them have different legacy models for thinking about what things are and how to find them.  So how can we increase discovery across collections, especially digital and digitized collections?  Can we build union catalogs without killing each other?

    Cultural heritage institutions large and small often house materials and aspects of all three LAMs under one roof, and are thus theoretically already “convergent institutions.”  But we do as bad a job talking within institutions as we do amongthem.  There are tensions between archivists and museum people, for instance, in the granularity of description—archivists describe at the collection level, museum registrars at the artifact level.  Our large history institution has recently made it a priority to present archival and museum materials in the same digital catalog, using a set of standard metadata.  Using our institution as a case study, we’d like to talk about the challenges of LAM convergence, especially around issues of description and metadata.


  1. Your post triggered a memory of something I had read some years ago. A science blogger had made this generalization about libraries, museums and archives:

    “library = community access to reusable stuff
    museum = community access to unique stuff
    archive = nobody/privileged access to important stuff”

    I hope this admitted generalization didn’t make you cringe. The point that stuck with me in his post (http://scilib.typepad.com/science_library_pad/2006/09/the_critical_li.html) is

    “Reusable stuff’ is practically the definition of online content”

    Here’s another generalization (that I hope doesn’t make you cringe) the descriptive work of LAM’s has been geared towards discover and now they must be re-considered for discovery and re-use.

  2. Interesting. Yes, indeed, let’s think about how we can talk about discovery + reuse in a larger LAM context.

    (That sound you hear is our archivist friends cringing.)

  3. lancestuch says:

    Yep, got a bit of a cringe going on here

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