Collective Wisdom: An Exploration of Library, Archives and Museum Cultures

by the participants in the Library, Archives and Museum Conference Exchange project

Collective Wisdom: An Exploration of Library, Archives and Museum Cultures was written by the participants in the Library, Archives and Museum Conference Exchange project, in which 18 librarians, archivists and museum professionals explored cross-sector practices and culture, and potential for interdisciplinary collaboration and continuing education.

This project was part of the grant-funded and OCLC-managed Coalition to Advance Learning.

The cohort was charged to 1) Build stronger cross-sector relationships; 2) Increase understanding of sector cultures; and 3) Identify opportunities for collaborative continuing education or professional development. The white paper summarizes their in-depth efforts in each of these three areas.

Download US Letter .pdf

Download Executive Summary .pdf    



  • Participants identified concerns that cut across all three professions, which include preservation and conservation; diversity, equity and inclusion; employment and workplace practices; sustainability (financial and environmental); and the need to become better advocates for ourselves as individuals, institutions, sectors and collectively across these sectors in order to secure needed resources and articulate our public value.
  • Participants examined opportunities for cross-sector collaboration, including graduate programs in library and information science and museum studies and smaller shared interest groups organized regionally across sectors.
  • Recommendations, ideas and actions for LAM cross-sector connection are provided in Appendix A, in a format inspired by Nexus LAB’s recent “Layers of Leadership” framework.


In 2016, a cohort of 18 librarians, archivists and museum professionals came together for the Collective Wisdom: Libraries, Archives and Museums (LAM) Conference Exchange to explore the practices and cultures of each other’s sectors. With the intent of increasing understanding and connection across the field, especially around collaboration for continuing education and professional development (CE/PD), the group attended three major LAM sector conferences―AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, ALA Annual 2016 and Archives*Records 2016―as their primary venue of investigation.

Attending the annual meetings of the major professional organization for each LAM sector allowed cohort members to reflect on the similarities and differences in professional cultures; assess opportunities for cross-sector collaborations; network with allied information and cultural heritage professionals; and reflect on challenges, opportunities and best practices across the LAM sectors. Observations, reflections and recommendations from this rich experience are now captured in this white paper.

Funding for conference travel expenses was made available for 12 of the cohort members through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Coalition to Advance Learning in Archives, Libraries and Museums.


Appendix A: Recommendations, Ideas and Actions for LAM Cross-Sector Connection

In this appendix, the Collective Wisdom cohort offers several recommendations and suggestions to improve, innovate and direct the future of continuing education and professional development (CE/PD) across the national LAM sectors.

Appendix B: Enhancing the Conference Experience – A Guide for Conference Organizers and Attendees

This appendix serves as a guide to assist you and your organization with becoming an advocate for conferences, as a vehicle for working across sectors and building an empowered case for support for collaboration.

Library, Archives and Museum Conference Exchange project

Stephanie Allen, Collections and Exhibitions Manager, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, Dallas, TX

Sofía Becerra-Licha, Associate Director, Archives, Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA

Kenn Bicknell, Digital Resources Librarian, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Library & Archive, Los Angeles, CA

Jacqueline E. Chapman, Digital Collections Librarian, Smithsonian Libraries, Washington, DC

Genna Duplisea, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian, Salve Regina University, Newport, RI

M. Alison Eisendrath, Andrew W. Mellon Director of Collections, Chicago History Museum, Chicago, IL

Joe Filapek, Consulting and Continuing Education Manager, Reaching Across Illinois Library System, Aurora, IL

Jan Levinson Hebbard, Outreach Archivist, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, GA

James Himphill, Territorial Archivist, Dept. of Administrative Services, Office of Archives and Records Management,American Samoa Government, Pago Pago, AS

Jeffrey Inscho, Director, Innovation Studio, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Susan M. Irwin, Director, Library & Archives Division, Arizona Historical Society, Tempe, AZ

Elizabeth Joffrion, Director of Heritage Resources, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA

Stephanie Baltzer Kom, Digital Initiatives Coordinator, North Dakota State Library, Bismarck, ND

Melissa Levine, Lead Copyright Officer, Librarian, University of Michigan Library, Ann Arbor, MI

Christina E. Newton, Assistant Director, Virginia Association of Museums, Richmond, VA

Dr. Mega Subramaniam, Associate Professor, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Gina Watkinson, Conservation Laboratory Coordinator, Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Darla Wegener, County Librarian, Tulare County Library, Visalia, CA