Educating cultural heritage information professionals for Australia’s galleries, libraries, archives and museums

“This research explored the skills, knowledge and qualities, and professional education needs, of information professionals in galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM) in Australia.”

Source: Educating cultural heritage information professionals for Australia’s galleries, libraries, archives and museums

This paper by Katherine Howard is a great continuation of the previous discussion initiated in the 2015 Whyte Memorial Lecture (see previous post). There is now more than ever increased opportunities for “collaboration and convergence between institutions” in the GLAMR sectors, and thus a need to educate professionals to work across these blurred boundaries. While it is unlikely that the different areas will all become one, the research in this article shows the intersection of skills across sectors and the similarities are quite interesting – there is so much we can all learn from each other!

In addition:

The findings provide the first empirically based guidelines around what needs to be included in an educational framework for information professionals who will work in the emerging GLAM environment.  A further recommendation is to consider establishing an undergraduate degree where the broader, cross-disciplinary skills and knowledge are taught in an Information Management/ Informatics focussed program.

As a recent graduate I found this particularly interesting. In my post-graduate course, there was a lot of cross-over between libraries and archives. Students in each discipline studied identical classes with the exception of around 1 or 2 specialised subjects. So in this instance, I would say there was a lot of broad knowledge shared. However, I would definitely have been interested in learning more about the galleries and museum side of things, and how our skills are used across these other areas. Of course, with the limited time it would be hard to work that in –  thus, I think the proposal of an undergraduate course is well considered. Learning the general skills and then being able to decide on a specialisation in a post-graduate degree would enable more experience and greater knowledge of the field before choosing a direction. This would also leave more room in the post-graduate course to study sector-specific subjects and lead to an overall increase in knowledge of graduates.

Of course, one down side is this would negate the variety of skills and knowledge each post-graduate brings into the profession from the multitude of undergraduate degrees leading to a GLAMR course. I studied with individuals from arts backgrounds, history, theatre, IT, law, science and so forth. Each of these different bases gave the students, and thus the profession, a broader range of knowledge to draw from and thus greater perspectives and ability to think differently about topics and issues. This variety in backgrounds makes our profession richer and I wonder, if students were to come straight from high school to an Undergraduate Information Management course to a Post-Grad specialisation, would this cause a sort of tunnel vision?

But I digress, this paper contains a multitude of ideas that could be discussed at great length. I will leave my examination of the topic with the simple point that, as is being more frequently made, all sectors of the GLAMR professions not only share similar skills, but can leverage knowledge from each other to enable better practices and an overall rise in our ability to remain relevant in today’s changing world.

I am not yet even an expert in my own library field, but I hope one day to be able to gain knowledge from all the GLAMR perspectives and incorporate it into my work, to provide even higher quality information services.

Thanks for reading,

Michelle De Aizpurua

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