In early 2022 the REALM project has hosted a series of online forums to foster discussion, knowledge sharing, and mutual support among those who work in and with the cultural heritage field. Each forum is a two-hour facilitated conversation with representatives of archives, libraries, museums, and related service organizations and agencies. The conversations are designed to elicit examples, perspectives, and ideas that help inform REALM project activities and can lead to new initiatives and projects to bolster capacity and resilience of cultural heritage institutions.
On January 26, 2022, OCLC hosted a forum with 23 invited participants primarily from libraries, archives, museums (LAMs), to discuss the information and resources cultural heritage institutions need—and in what format—to prepare for, navigate through, and recover from public health crises. A three-round World Café format was used to support structured, collaborative gathering of insights and perspectives. Each breakout room covered one of four topics: (1) Decision-making; (2) Leading staff and public; (3) Facilities and operations; and (4) Resource networks.
This summary is a synthesis of notes from each breakout room over the course of all three rounds of the World Café. While there was not one response or experience that was common to all participants, the collective discussion outlined some emerging practices and recommendations for crisis management in LAMs. The input from the discussion has informed the REALM project’s development of crisis management toolkit resources that will be published in 2022.
On March 3, 2022, OCLC hosted a forum that gathered together 21 participants representing the public library sector and 8 representing the museum sector. This forum facilitated discussion about the factors that might lead local cultural heritage institutions to be a place that community members turn to in times of crisis for information, resources, services, sanctuary and/or programming. The forum also elicited perspectives about the challenges of such a role and how those challenges might be addressed, so that LAM institutions and support organizations can envision a path forward together. The REALM project team is using the input from these discussions to document recommendations for future projects or initiatives that can help build the capacity of LAMs to serve as community hubs in times of crisis.
On April 27, 2022, OCLC hosted 22 participants for the final in a series of three online REALM forums. Among the participants, local, state, and national organizations were represented, as were archives, libraries, museums, foundations, and the public health sector.
This forum was designed to facilitate discussion on how networks and other collaborative partnerships among organizations have bolstered the collective capacity of libraries, archives, and museums to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in our communities. The forum also elicited perspectives about the role participants played to build, strengthen, or maintain a network; and how their network responded to the needs of their communities during this crisis.