Is the digital age a threat to GLAM?

Image by Gerd Altmann licensed under CC0.

A story from Canada.

The digital age poses new challenges to Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM). Does it make these public memory institutions obsolete? Are people relying on Google, Wikipedia and their likes for information and memory?

A study in Canada found the reverse to be true.  See this opinion piece:

In a digital age, more people than ever are visiting libraries, archives and museums

Interesting excerpts from the article are:

. . . the patronage of GLAMs is increasing. The number of visits to public libraries in the United States increased by four per cent in the past year. The new Halifax Public Library received double the expected number of visitors in its first year (1.9 million compared with the 900,000 expected), and it is anticipated that the new Ottawa Central Library will welcome at least 1.6 million visitors each year. As for Canadian museums, they attract 62 million visitors per year, up 10 per cent from 2013.

The Canadian Museums Association, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and Library and Archives Canada hosted the Summit on the Value of Libraries, Archives and Museums in December 2016. Key points about memory institutions in the early 21st century were highlighted:

• Technology is a source of both challenges and opportunities. [read more in the article]

• Memory institutions are playing new roles [read more in the article]

• The position of memory institutions in the creative ecosystem cannot be reduced to the functions of collecting and preserving works. [read more in the article]

The summit revealed that the collaboration among the memory institutions goes beyond knowledge sharing. Instead of focussing on their unique collections and services, the institutions need to look for what is commonality because the differences among GLAMs are vanishing gradually.


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