Victoria Worsfold’s of the Victoria and Albert Museum report on the LMLAG 2009 conference.
The London Museum Librarians and Archivists Group (LMLAG) held an exciting and successful one-day conference ‘Not Museum Pieces: the Developing Role of Archivists and Librarians in Museums’ at the National Gallery on the 10th September 2009. LMLAG is a network of archivists and librarians working in the capital’s museums and galleries. The emphasis of LMLAG is on informality, co-operation and action and the groups concerns mirror those of all librarians and archivists and their activities are outward-looking, user-focused and cutting-edge. LMLAG has now organised three bi-annual conferences, all concentrating on how to adapt and survive in a rapidly changing environment.
‘Not Museum Pieces’ was about looking outward, updating skills and maintaining both your own and your organisations relevancy. Speakers from OCLC, the National Archives, The National Maritime Museum, Seven Stories, CILIP, The University of Bristol and University College London all shared their examples of innovative working and cross-domain partnerships. They showed how to deliver value for money solutions to the challenge of a radically altered electronic environment with ever increasing user demands and changing expectations of service delivery. The overall message of the day was that museum libraries and archives must be fleet of foot to ensure their ongoing survival and must demonstrate their worth to the wider world. They must get their digital content into the areas where people already go to rather than wait for them to come to visit their sites. The speakers all argued that you don’t have to wait until things are perfect but that its far better to just get content ‘out there’ and refine later and that this all increases, rather than reduces, footfall to your home site. This can be done cheaply but still effectively using off the shelf solutions, user driven content and collaboration with other organisations. The emphasis of the day was also on personal as well as organisational change with a recognition that change-management, networking skills and the confidence to apply digital solutions are the new hot currencies in today’s job environment.