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About us

Who we are

MLAG (Museum Librarians and Archivists Group) is a network of archivists and librarians working in museums and galleries throughout the UK. Our emphasis is on informality, co-operation and action. We are keen to share views, experiences and innovative ideas with anybody interested in our field of work. Our concerns mirror those of all librarians and archivists and our activities are outward-looking, user-focused and cutting-edge.

We offer a regular annual programme of visits, seminars and talks on key current issues and participants are welcome beyond the group. We have also organised three successful biennial conferences. We strive to keep our fees for events as low as possible and in many cases these are free. We recognise that most conferences are beyond the budget of students and people on modest incomes so we have set our prices to make these easily affordable to all.

Museum libraries and archives represent a vast treasure trove of freely available resources. Our collections contain many millions of items and hundreds of archival collections. Much of our material is unique. We cover a diverse range of topics including war diaries, minutes of Masonic Lodges, Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks, taped interviews with top international artists and transport history.

As well as our physical facilities we also offer phone and written enquiry answering together with a range of online services. We appeal to researchers in the broadest sense, ranging from writers, academics and students to school pupils and amateur genealogists.

Our mission

  • To promote the sharing of skills, knowledge and resources between members and encourage new and innovative ways of making our culture accessible, realising our potential and inspiring people.

Our objectives

  • Raising the profile of the sector and promoting its interdisciplinary strengths.
  • Ensuring all stakeholders recognise the potential of members to contribute to achieving corporate goals.
  • Creating opportunities to enhance collections and services through consortium working.
  • Leading on professional development with an active learning programme, by creating forums for exchanging ideas and through sharing skills and knowledge.
  • Setting standards and developing new models to encourage best practice in service delivery and collection management.
  • Offering a positive experience to the widest possible audience, understanding their needs and creating attractive approaches to our collections and services.

Our strategy

  1. Martin Flynn permalink

    It’s rare to feel thoroughly proud to be in the company of fellow museum, library and archive professionals but yesterday’s LMLAG conference, ‘Not Museum Pieces’ at the National Gallery, was just such an occasion. It was envigorating to hear about initiatives which attained the highest ideals of our professions, often in spite of a deficit of resources yet with an evident surplus of energy and enthusiasm. Congratulations and thanks are due to the organisers for providing such a stimilating event at such a bargain price.

    Of the many provoking thoughts generated by the conference one in particular stands out and that is the visibility of our services. Fiona Romeo, from the National Maritime Museum, was asked about the potential dangers for photo library income of posting images on to Flickr Commons. She pointed out that the main risk for us is obscurity in the online environment rather than theft. Gunter Waibel, from OCLC, stressed that we are deluding ourselves in thinking that our presence on our instutitional website is sufficient to generate awareness of our services. We need to be highly visible in places like Flickr where potential users are active and engaged.

  2. Admin permalink

    I agree – I’ve always thought that getting more content out there brings more people to us, rather than less. Seb Chan from the Powerhouse recently wrote a detailed account of how their Flickr strategy has worked for them:


  3. Vicky Worsfold permalink

    I fully agree with Martin’s comment about the conference. It was one of the most relevant and engaging sessions I have been to in a long while and in itself was actually an answer to one of the questions that the day posed: just how do we develop and maintain our skills in a fast changing and comptetitive environment? By going to more events like this one, pitched at just the right level and priced in a way that everyone who needed to could afford to attend.

    One of the practical examples that most struck me was one the collaborations “in the Wild!” described by Gunter Waibel. Seven major museum, public and academic libraries in New York had carried out an exercise to see what overlap there was between their collections and it showed a staggering amount of ‘uniqueness’, providing a strong lever for collaboration over access, collection development, cataloguing etc. It would be very interesting to carry out such an exercise with our own collections and see where it takes us.

  4. Richard Golland permalink

    Hi all,

    I’ve noticed that Gunter Waibel has kindly loaded his presentation to slideshare:

    We’re hoping to load other presentations, where speaker’s permission has been granted, in the near future.


  5. Sally Brooks permalink

    The Tuesday after the LMLAG conference, CILIP held an executive briefing on ‘Beyond the Silos of the LAMs’. Gunter Waibel gave the introduction and then there were various case studies, including Smithsonian and V&A, plus other examples of LAM working in the UK. The presentations have gone up on the the CILIP website at


  6. Hi, I was very interested in your piece about Explore History at the IWM (May 25, 2010), but I wondered if you could give me further detail of the procedure if someone wanted to delve into the written archives (say testimony at the Nuremburg war trials)? I’m interest in the application process, mechanics, location.

    I’m a published author researching my new thriller, but I’m unable to get to London very often to experience these things myself.

    Doug Jackson (author of Caligula. Claudius, Hero of Rome and The Doomsday Testament – as James Douglas)

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