Negotiating collaboration: Four case studies from grant-funded GLAM projects

As museum, library, and digital practitioners, we work regularly with many diverse communities. The desire to best serve curators, researchers, students, faculty, and staff is built into the core mission of cultural heritage institutions. On cross-functional and cross-institutional projects, we need internal collaboration to bring our external offerings to the next level. On collaborative digital projects, we not only have to mediate how we interface with each other, often across disciplinary boundaries, but also how technological systems and infrastructure interface as well. So how do we negotiate between the often competing needs of our communities and make decisions that move our work forward? In this panel, participants from five institutions with different perspectives, circumstances, and processes address how they have approached negotiating among interfaces and communities. All of the institutions have embarked on projects supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to encourage collaboration between libraries and museums and to make arts and cultural heritage resources more widely discoverable and available. Our aim in this panel is not to present “one-size-fits-all” solutions but to reflect the range of communities, decision-making processes, institutions, and choices available to museums and libraries embarking on collaborative digital projects.


Unknown Speaker 00:00
All right. Welcome everyone to our panel discussion, negotiating collaboration. It says five case studies, but it's actually four case studies from grant funded glam projects. I'm Julie. I'm Juliet Vinay Gra. I'm the project manager for art Information Commons at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which we'll speak about during this presentation. And just a little bit about the gist of our discussion. It's as museum library, and digital practitioners. We work regularly with many diverse communities that has a desire to best serve curators, researchers, students, faculty and staff is built into the core mission of cultural heritage institutions. On cross functional and cross institutional projects, we need internal collaboration to bring our external offerings to the next level. On collaborative digital projects, we not only have to mediate how we interface with each other often across disciplinary boundaries, but also how technological systems and infrastructure interface as well. And just so you know, if you want to access the slides now on your laptop, or after the discussion, we have this bitly link here, dot slash glam co lab. And I'll show it later at the end if you're not able to jot it down now. So how do we negotiate between often competing needs of our communities and make decisions that move our work forward? In this panel participants from four institutions with different perspectives, circumstances and processes, address how they have approached negotiating among interfaces and communities, all the institutions have embarked on projects supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to encourage collaboration between libraries and museums to make Arts and Cultural Heritage Resources more widely discoverable and available. Our aim in this panel is not to present a one size fits all solution, but to reflect the range of communities decision making processes, institutions, and choices available to museums and libraries embarking on collaborative digital projects. So our speakers today are Karina Rajko, sitting next to me, my colleague at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Adrian figgus, Project Manager for the Mellon Museum and Library collaboration grant at Smith College Libraries. Just come Breiman Mellon art and archives metadata librarian at the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah, Abby Shelton, the outreach festival specialist for the Mellon Museum and Library collaboration grant at Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame, and myself, who will be moderating the panel. Also, each institution is in a different phase of the grant process. Some of us some of us have planning grants, and then some of us have implementation grants. So we will begin a session with an introduction from each institution and to tell you the status of our projects, and then also what we will be doing next. So I will turn it over to my colleague, Karina to discuss a little bit about the information comments. Let's try this one.

Unknown Speaker 03:07
Hello. Okay. So Hi, I'm Karina Rascoe. I'm talking about the art Information Commons, which is an initiative at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And it's supported by a three year planning grant from the Mellon Foundation. Our aim is to ever to leverage and evolve the existing ways we create and work, share and store our art information. So we're digging into our common activities, needs and workflows, and looking to create a framework for holistic management of the museum's art information. And so for us, we're looking at curatorial and registrar files, Library and Archives, the collection, database, image database conservation records, and any other kind of related resources, kind of including education interpretation. It's really an inwardly focused initiative. So I think someone yesterday mentioned the internal community. And I think that that's what our grant is focused on. And I think that by focusing on our internal community, we want to be doing more externally in in furthering the museum's strategic direction. So just to give some background into sorry, my slides not advancing, just to give some institutional background because we're talking about many different kinds of museum collections and library collections. The museum staff, I believe average is around 500 people and the library and archive is usually around a dozen. Our collections are split across the curatorial collections are comprised of eight curatorial departments and about a quarter million objects in that collection. And we have About a quarter million in the Library and Archives over 4000 linear feet of archival materials. And we think we have a million over a million digital assets. But we don't have a dams yet. So I don't think we really actually know. So who we are, we have a project team he listed here, Bill Weinstein, who's here at MC and Juliet panagra. So we have also people across MCN, who are part of this initiative. So we have an advisory board that is an external group that lends their experience and expertise to us, we have annual meetings with them, and also quarterly calls with them. We have an internal steering committee that's made up of many different departments across the museum. And they are our advocates, they keep us in alignment with the museum. And they share knowledge of their work and provide feedback. We also have just initiated a metadata and governance group. So they're thinking really broadly about metadata and governance. But they are beginning by talking about the digital asset management system, because we are setting up our first museum wide system so that they're bringing the art Information Commons lens into that work. So our work to date is, has been a lot of communication. So we've been focused on internal communication and external communication. We've made lots of charters, we've set up lots of groups and corresponding documents to go along with those groups and roles and responsibilities, scopes and roadmaps. So lots of documents are getting passed back and forth. We also have been working on internal communication in terms of we have a monthly open house meeting when staff can come and talk to us and also get updates on the current state of the project. And so we call that coffee with the commons and Juliet leave that we've had a lot of internal conversations that have led us into analysis of our current state of information needs, our pain points and people's dreams. And so that has led us into, I'll go into the next steps. But we've we've done a lot of internal looking, we've been looking at external projects. And so you'll see there's a link there for an environmental scan. And we have been putting together a spreadsheet that we've published online, that is lots of the initiatives that we see happening in the museum cultural heritage sector that we like to be, we'd like to know more about and so we've shared that with others. And if you have anything that you see there, that's not included, please let us know. We're happy to get some feedback. It's an active working place for us. So yes,

Unknown Speaker 07:57
so we are still working on hiring a Data Integration developer. And that's going to be a core member of our team. We're continuing to work on prototyping and testing in the second year. So we're going to be identifying key areas of siloed art information. We're going to work on modeling and planning the use of common taxonomy, investing, investigating ways that metadata and governance can help us evaluating our system and developing a comprehensive system map. And we're also looking at free test cases. So these are areas where we already are doing work. Digital Asset Management, conservation and underrepresented artists are things that we're already working on in the museum. And so we're kind of looking at that in the lens of the art Information Commons and seeing how can we extend it? How can we work on work with what people are already doing? So with that in mind, we hope to get you'll get in touch with us join our Google group or check out our website. A lot of what we've been doing this past year, Juliet is summarizing in a toolkit. And so that's going to be shared soon. But we also have lots of internal and external professional development events, including one two weeks from now and as symposia in February and July. Thanks.

Unknown Speaker 09:24
So hi, I'm Adrian. And as Juliet said, I'm the project manager at Smith College for our very evocatively named Museum and Library collaboration planning grant. And in many ways, we have a very similar conception of our project to PMA but a very different type of institution as you know, a an independent liberal arts college. And we are right now closing up an 18 month planning grant, and the initial stated goal was to identify and plan collaborative projects and infrastructure for digital collections and Digital Scholarship at Smith College. And the well, that's fine. So the partners in the project are the Smith College Libraries, which encompasses Special Collections being the rare books in the archival departments. And they also have, you know, tech services and discovery and access any library, then the Smith College Museum of Art, which is a comprehensive teaching collection, that already has a lot of collaborative teaching and support relationships with other departments at Smith, and in the Five Colleges Consortium. Then the Botanic Gardens, which is on the third of the professionally managed collections at Smith has a much smaller staff, and they are a less active partner, but we're trying to take a full view of collections at Smith for this endeavor, so they really count. Then we have two technical support arms, in addition to the tech support and the libraries, we have our campus wide ITSS. And they are partners with us in this project. And we also have the imaging center, which is in, you know, it's a part of the art department. It's the modern derivative of site collection, our side library, but they also have a support relationship with the museum for a lot of their dams work and also some of their access. And so they come into the project in that way. So well, for this 18 month planning grant, our planned outcomes were to map the tech and support ecosystem for digital collections at Smith, you know, find out across all these collections what's actually currently happening, because there was no single repository of knowledge about that. And we took a broad understanding of what that meant. So I did end up talking to some other less formal collections and some other potential tech support arms about that, and sort of really trying to dig into the support relationships. So not just What tool do we use, but you know, who do you go to when you have a problem with it and who's responsible for it. Then the second major outcome was to create a technical strategy and implementation plan to meet shared needs. And so first, we had to figure out, you know, what are the most urgent shared needs that could be best met through collaboration, as opposed to individual investment by these different areas, and then draft a proposal for an implementation grant to meet some of those needs. So what we did is we started with about seven to eight months of individual of internal data gathering, as I mentioned above, we invited a set of experts from around the country to come and meet with us for two days and look at the data we had and also talk to people who work with these collections in various ways across these different departments, and gave us their reactions and recommendations on how we should focus because that was the major thing that we kept encountering was, we have so many possibilities, how do we just actually focus and do something, then we hired a consulting firm, a VP or AV preserve, to take all that information and figure out how we're actually going to accomplish something in four years. And then since the late summer, we've been wrapping that up into internal proposals, and also a grant proposal that's currently underway with the Mellon Foundation. Next slide. So this real quick is a diagram of the in very, very simplified terms of the relationships that go into this grant. So the libraries and the museum both fall under the provost and also Botanic Garden. And so the the Dean of Libraries and the museum director, are RPIs for the project. Then we have the VP for itfs, who's also involved and she has close relationship with those other leaders. Then we have the project lead team that's made up of people that report directly to the heads of the libraries in the museum. And then I as project manager report to that lead team. And then lead team and I work with the consultant. And then I manage communication and recording with our stakeholders, which is the sort of lighter blue groups, they're the IT staff across campus, the users and the collection staff. So just to sort of situate everything together.

Unknown Speaker 14:00
So for this grant proposal, and also it's intertwined proposals that we have internally, we have a four year plan. And the specific vision of that is to focus on sustainable governance and infrastructure for collaboration around digital collections. Meaning that, you know, we need some revamped systems, we need some really, you know, there are so many exciting things we could do around access. But before we can jump into developing or implementing any single system, we need to figure out who will support it, how finances will be allocated for it, and what's it going to look like, you know, past those four years of the grant, what's it going to look like for the needs that we can't even imagine would exist? And so we're planning on front loading within that four years a governance structure and a shared metadata model for these collections. That will include a governance team that is people with heavy duty decision making powers but also the people that We'll actually be doing the support work and try to break down the support silos so that, you know, people who are in tech services in the libraries can actually be empowered to solve issues that are happening at the museum, or, you know, build shared access platforms. Then once that's actually underway, the first big project that that group will take on will be choosing and implementing a digital preservation platform, because that is the sort of big gaping, scary hole that we discovered in all of our probably overstating things. But certain units within the college have, you know, literally no actual preservation for their digital objects, besides, you know, you know, to backups of their files, but they don't have any active preservation, whereas some have active preservation, but it's very manual and cannot scale with their dreams for the next few years. So we're going to work together and pick a system that will meet the needs for all the collections and then phase it in over about two and a half years. And then eventually, that we will build on that with new access and discovery mechanisms. But we're really trying to build that foundation first. And so overall, the biggest goal is that sustainable framework, so that different collaborations that again, we can't even imagine now, we'll have a place to happen. So right now, we don't really have any outward facing documentation, but I'm hoping to have that up in the next few months. But you'll be able to find it at these links. And, you know, feel free to contact me a [email protected] If you have any questions or ideas for us. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 16:37
Hi, everyone, I want to make sure you can hear me because I have a naturally like low volume voice and I talk fast. So I'm a metadata librarian from the University of Utah. Thank you everyone for coming. I know the post lunch slump is real. I was kept looking for coffee around the lunch room. I was like, why not? Why is there not coffee. So our grant is a mouthful. It's called landscape land art and the American West, a joint research and engagement initiative of the J. Willard Marriott library and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. So we have four years subject based implementation grant, we did not do a planning grant beforehand, I'm going to say outright I wish we had. So we are the only Mellon grant or one of the only ones I know that actually have a very subject based interpretation of this kind of grant. We definitely did not aim small with our goals. So the Marriott library and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts are We're literally at each other's doorsteps on the University of Utah campus. Collaboration has definitely been sporadic over the years, and just sort of like one off. And so part of the grant aside from sort of like all the like, sort of technical nitty gritty, and all of that kind of stuff was to get us to work together. And that is sort of like part of, you know, the Mellon's big goal in these partnerships. So a little bit about us. The University of Utah as a tier one research institution, we're about 30 to 40,000 students. The library has about 250 full time staff and the museum has 35 to 40. At any given time. We are the largest public special collections in the state. So we have about 80,000 Rare Books, and millions of objects across the archives, manuscripts, photographs, and audio visual. Our photographs department alone is estimated to have about 3 million photographs. And I can't even tell you like how backlogged we are with processing. So who knows what that number actually is. The Utah Museum of Fine Arts is the state's of flagship museum. And it's also the campus Museum. It has a very big both sort of internal and external focus with the community. And what we're sort of trying to do with our grantees is learn from each other. The library is very engaged with the campus community and the museum is very engaged publicly. So we're hoping to sort of trade that knowledge as well like how can the museum learn to engage more internally and how can we learn how to engage externally? So Mellon essentially has three different tracks with these grants. There's data integration, so integration of the digital collection For enhanced discoverability, there's preservation and conservation. And then there's campus engagement grants. So what the University of Utah did is we sort of put our foot in all three, most people apply for one of those tracks, and we decided to sort of do it all. So we did, we're doing the data integration, and we're also doing research exhibits projects. We're doing a re granting program for faculty, staff and students to do research and creative projects using both collections. And the grand is essentially paying for my possession for four years. As a metadata librarian, I'm trying to get our metadata and shapes so that this new discovery tool actually works. And there's also a curator at the museum, who was hired to sort of drive more of the exhibits and some more research into the museum's collections. So because we did not have so you can switch. Because we did not have a planning grant, we're really sort of like driving down the road as we're building it. We've we're almost done with the first two years of the grant. But the first year, the grant was really spent hiring me and my colleague at the museum, so I've been on the grant for a little over a year.

Unknown Speaker 21:34
So the first round of sort of re granting to students, faculty and staff has occurred. We've definitely learned a lot in the process about campus, essentially, that faculty, staff and students have zero idea what Special Collections is, or how to research using it. And the same goes for museum collections, they have no idea how to use those objects in their research, or you know, even how to research them. Our data integration is in process library, it has said that we need to use primo for that which is an ex libris product. If any of you have any experience with ex libris you know that their customer service is slow, slow to respond. So it's been a real struggle to get that going. So right now we've been able to harvest static XML data. But in this next upcoming year, we're hoping to do more with using the API for the museum's database. We have two exhibitions planned for 2021 on the suffrage for women next year. Believe it or not, Utah women were the first in the nation to vote. They took it away later, but we were the first. And the other one is the 50th anniversary of the state's infamous artwork, Spiral Jetty. So we have those planned, we did an initial round of user testing just with internally with staff and faculty and special collections in the museum. We're going to delve deeper into that next year with external users. And the big thing on our docket is really metadata remediation for this upcoming year and sort of doing a deep dive into trying to figure out all the idiosyncrasies of both Special Collections and museum metadata.

Unknown Speaker 23:50
And if you want to call her maybe there's her information. Okay, hello, everyone. I'm Abby Shelton from the University of Notre Dame. And like the other institutions on this panel, we too have an art museum, a rare books department and university archives. So I'm located in the Museum of Art, which is very small, we only have 18 full time staff about 29,000 collection objects, whereas our library system is much larger, so about 200 staff, and about 200,000 Rare volumes and 10s of 1000s of linear feet of archival material, ephemera and AV material. So like the others here, we have long known that our user communities, namely our faculty, students, staff, researchers, public school educators, community members, use all of these different collections together for the same course for the same research assignment for the same visit to campus See, however, that means that these users have to go to a multitude of online and print sources, various people, from curators to reference librarians and various physical spaces. In addition to our kind of external user groups, even internally, we use these collections together. So right now at the art museum, one of our fall shows includes items from our Rare Books and Special Collections Department, as well as our art museum together in one space. So although we ourselves and our communities are using these materials together, the objects really in terms of access remains siloed. So the context for this grant was really thinking about what if we could start to bring these things together. So next slide. Yep. So enter the grant, like many institutions with a problem to solve, we applied for a grant from the Mellon Foundation to bring together these collections online. So as I alluded to a minute ago, the first problem that we're trying to solve is the problem of decentralized information about specialized collections. And we're not going to solve that entirely. We're not merging all of these departments into one physical space, we're really just trying to tackle the digital access side of that. So bringing our digital collections together, because this meets a second more museum focused need, which is that our museum currently has no online catalog. So there's no way for our users to really know what's in the collection. And part of that has to do with really messy legacy metadata, which I'm sure everyone is very familiar with. And we're dealing with that on the side as well. So our essential outcomes really are a thing. So a digital collections portal, where users can search across these various institutions holdings, but also the kind of less tangible, strengthen relationships between the library and museum, and then obviously, a more active digital presence for the museum. So what have we done so far? So I put this list of things that we've done so far, but I really want to highlight the parts of this slide that deal with the topic of our panel, which is collaboration. So I want to focus on our one of our first key decisions in this project, which was to form a couple of sub teams. So the hard to near impossible to read graphic on the slide is a representation of the teams that we formed to accomplish work on this project. So the grant provided for funds to hire two people. But this we knew early on that this was larger, much larger than that. So we have formed a leadership team, a content team, a metadata team, a workflow team and a development team, because clearly, we love teams. But this has meant that colleagues who are permanent, who will last who will be at the institution beyond the grant are invested in the project, it also means that they are empowered to make decisions related to their own expertise. So if I was to choose one factor that was crucial to our successful collaboration, it would be the formation of these teams. Not only are the relevant experts engaged, there's also sort of an appropriate level of overlap on these teams. So we have a developer on each of these teams, even just to listen and to hear what our metadata librarians or our, you know, our curator of European art, has to say about the collections they want to put up online.

Unknown Speaker 28:50
And these people that are on these teams, also serve as built in ambassadors for our project. So I'm responsible like Adrian for communication efforts, but I can't be in all places at all times. And but our sub team members can be and this is, I think, sometimes the challenge of grant projects, like shiny grant projects, is that there's there can be some some resentment or uncertainty on the part of the staff of the institution in terms of what's happening, what's going to happen. And so by empowering these other members who have been at the institution for longer than I have to be able to communicate about what's going on has been really helpful in terms of our grant work so far. So what will we do next? Again, there's a lot on the slide. So I'm just going to highlight a few points that really speak to collaboration. First of all, we we have built the thing in prototype. So we have a prototype when we have been testing it's probably important to say that so one of the collaborations that's hinted at on this slide which I haven't really talked about is the collaboration with our external users. So one of the most exciting things we're going to be doing this year is focusing on our students. So last year, we did a lot of testing and discovery conversations with faculty and stuff. But we've really sort of defined our core users as our students or novice researchers, if you want to call them that. So we've held a few participatory design sessions, we also have a pop up a UX station in our library library, where we offer doughnuts in exchange for simple website tasks, we heard from our students, that donuts will attract them to do anything. So you know, how has this focus on on our relationship with our users been helpful, even for our internal museum library collaboration? Well, it's been an incredibly powerful advocacy strategy. So and maybe this is just because we're an academic institution. But if we can demonstrate to our leadership that students really need a certain feature, they really need certain metadata work to happen, we can easily get the resources to make that work. So it's really been a great leveraging tool in negotiating work that needs to happen on the project. And then the final collaboration I want to highlight on the slide is just been our metadata remediation project in the museum. So like, every probably every single person at this conference, we are working with really messy legacy metadata. But we have finally convinced our museum leadership and curatorial staff to work with collection staff in the museum. So that's myself, a database administrator and the registrar. On a remediation workflow. We've had many, many meetings and conversations about this. And we're slowly making progress. So this has been a slow process, but a very rich one. And then finally, if you're interested in hearing more, or want to know more about what we've produced already, we have a microsite that's there. You can also email me or hit me up on Twitter. The thing, the last thing I'll say, is that, you know, this sort of collaboration between libraries, archives, museums, gardens, is not new. There are a lot of people that are doing this right now and have done it in the past. But it's worth doing, if you're considering it. Like Jessica mentioned, you know, we've learned as a museum so much from our library, friends, and vice versa, I think as a museum, we're becoming a little more open, a little more risk tolerant, and a little more able to give up control because of our collaboration with the library.

Unknown Speaker 32:51
Thank you. So thank you all for sharing your experiences, your trials and tribulations working through either planning grants or implementation grants. And it's really helpful. I said, it's great to have this community so that we can share what went right, what went wrong, or just lessons learned, and how we can all move forward together. So we're gonna have a little panel discussion, we just have a few questions. And then we'll break it out into q&a for the audience. So a big part of this is collaboration, as you see in our title. So I'm wondering how each of your teams or institutions initiated, sustained and use collaboration across your museum library garden to enable success.

Unknown Speaker 33:37
I'm happy to talk about this one, because well, I don't have a success story. Basically, we're still trying to figure it out. You know, as Abby mentioned, sometimes there's sort of resentment amongst staff for, you know, shiny new grant comes along, and you're going to take my data and you're going to change it, are you going to take my collections, and you're going to change them, and you're going to take what I do and change them? So you know, it's hard, and I still don't know. I'm definitely still struggling with it. But I try to come into every interaction with a sort of like, How can I help you? Do like, how can this grant help you do what you need to do and your regular day to day activities? Like if you can't find the object you're searching for in the database, can we do this thing to make it easier? And so that's the sort of only you know, advice I can offer is to come in with like, okay, can this grant serve you in what you already do?

Unknown Speaker 34:52
So I already talked about our sub teams, which I think are the most important thing that we've done in terms of collaboration. But I guess I can also talk about Our outreach and communication efforts as well since outreach is in my title. So the library has had many of these large grant projects, the museum has never had a large grant project. So we've learned a lot from the library in terms of a formalized communication structure. For instance, we have quarterly open forums in the library where anyone can come and hear an update, and ask questions. And we've started to implement this system in the museum as well. And I think that that has sort of opened people in the museum to collaborating on this project because they know what's happening. And they don't feel left out of the loop. We also make a point to have made a point to whenever we're talking to a library audience talk about the museum's work. And every time we're talking to a museum audience talk about the library's work. So we've been sort of cross cross training, but cross educating people from different departments about how objects are described how different systems work. A great example, we had a software developer from the library come back from vacation recently, and he was so happy to report that he had been to an art museum, and he had interpreted the parts of an accession number to his wife. And he was so proud of this new knowledge. So there's been a lot of really great sort of cross, just understanding that has helped this effort along.

Unknown Speaker 36:43
So really, briefly, I'll say that, in our institution, I've come to see in the last 18 months that we basically have two really strong layers of collaboration already existing. But what's needed is to tie them together. And so the top layer is the the head director level that the heads of the libraries, the museum, and it s, all three of them work very closely together. And they all have strong, positive feelings about the benefits of collaboration for you know, financial efficiencies, but also for just reducing the need for people to duplicate work and be able to do more exciting things. And when I get to see those, those three directors work together, it's always a real treat. And then there's also just constant and really exciting, just on the ground immediate collaboration between teaching librarians, museum educators, instructional technologists, and others, to support faculty to work on projects for classes, and also to directly support students. But even though it's, it's a yes, for collaboration on both levels, the work that's being done on the ground is not actually directly supported or directed by the leadership. And it's not actually feeding up into the specifics. And so I see our grant as a pot as a, an opportunity to bring those things together and celebrate them to figure out how do we make this sustainable and not dependent on just a friendship that happens to come up around one faculty member and make these things more broadly available. So it's not just a single faculty member or group of students who know about it, but it can just be standard for everyone at Smith and for outside users. And we can use the, you know, the space that we have in the grants, and frankly, the cachet of the Mellon name to say, Oh, well, this is for the Mellon grant. So you need to come to this half day meeting. And people come. And that's really helpful. And I hope that we can see that into the future.

Unknown Speaker 38:37
We are the earliest on in our project. We're one we're one year into a planning grant. So I think I outlined already how we kind of initiated it. And we're kind of just getting going and Juliet has done a lot of communication and gotten people going. But I think also for sustaining it, that'll be a big question, we are going in all these different directions. So we'll be needing to be, I think involving other staff more, and getting their input and getting them working on the project. So it's not just, you know, five core people working on it. And then another thing, too, is just in terms of collaboration, we're trying to celebrate the collaboration that's already happening happening at the museum. And also, so part of our project is we do some kind of, we call it a curriculum. I don't know what the more general term is, but we're trying to create enthusiasm. So in a shared language, so we're sharing, trying to share inspiration. We're having a symposium in February, where we're talking about the collaboration that already happens at the museum and then bringing in other examples so that we can see other good collaboration efforts.

Unknown Speaker 39:46
Thank you. It's really great to see I know there's some bumps in the road, but overall, we're trying to collaborate and that's a part of breaking down silos, and I know it's a big theme at MCN of what we're trying to do. So another big question is we all kind of talked about scope and how we're tackling what do we take on. And it can be a lot and and people can look at you and be like, you're not gonna do that in that amount of time. So I'm curious how you are all working on defining, creating and negotiating scope for your specific project, and what successes and struggles you've encountered.

Unknown Speaker 40:27
So I think for us, one of the reasons that they chose a subject based sort of grant theme was to try and brings the scope into focus. Unfortunately, in practice, that doesn't really work. Because it's like, how do you just remediate the metadata for stuff that has to do with landscape land art in the American West? It's just sort of not worthwhile, if you're going to do it, do it for all the objects, not just those ones. So right now, in terms of like, my job, I just for myself, I have to take a real narrow glimpse at things. It's, it's really hard to initiate and sustain deep collaboration, how do you do that we can plan exhibits together. And that's great. But that isn't a sustainable sort of ongoing type of structural change. And so right now, I think we're, there might be more mountains in our road than bumps. But we're still trying to figure that out. And maybe in another two years, when the grant is finished, we'll have more of an answer to that. But from my day to day, I just really have to focus on what we promised to melon, I really want to aim for that big hole collaboration thing. But I also have to think about, okay, we promised the data integration, the data remediation, some exhibits and some projects, I have to focus on that because I have to tell Mellon, those objectives were fulfilled.

Unknown Speaker 42:08
So for us in our planning grant, we didn't, we didn't promise Mellon a thing. And that that's one of our challenges is that when staff when we talk to staff, you know, and that's why we're talking about all these various areas of exploration. So I think that for us, one of the most important feedback that we got from the advisory board was to focus on our scope. And we've been working on our vision and scope actually, ever since then, I don't I don't know if we've, we might have it almost done. Yeah. So I think, but but we have been writing out our scope, even in terms of, you know, what we're never going to do what will what is late and later thing and what is a more immediate project for us, and then also kind of even roadmapping. And using lots of action, terminology. And I think that that's helpful for us in terms of getting a scope that we can look to.

Unknown Speaker 43:04
So for our planning grant, I intentionally took a very broad scope, and I would talk to anybody that had anything that they might consider a collection, about anything that might be considered a digital need. And I ended up going down some, you know, moderate rabbit holes that were fascinating. And it was worth making those connections. But in the end, for our implementation proposal, we've decided to focus pretty specifically on a pre existing definition within the College of the professionally managed collections that I alluded to, before the special collections in the library, the art museum, and the Botanic Garden, which cuts out a number of other collections that are in many ways, very worthy, but they're held by individual faculty members or academic departments, and have not been officially invested in by the college. And our logic for that limitation is that we're trying to frame this as a long term sustainable project that's being invested in by the college as a whole. And you know, Mellon, the Mellon grant is paying for part of it, but it needs to be a commitment from the college. And so we're trying to bootstrap onto that existing commitment. And hopefully, we'll be able to advise the other collections, but we're not promising that we'll do anything for them. And then we're also focusing technically on our data standards and preservation active preservation system, rather than getting into all the other possible things that could happen because the other possible things might be better served individually, like CMSs, or access systems. And that stuff. I know that, you know, we're going through the process now of having conversations with people to say, well, you know, that thing that you might have presumed that this grant would result in when we talk to year and a half ago, that's not actually what's happening. But if we can, I mean, we're so far we're having a good track record, just explaining the why and what we're doing and inspiring people to figure out other projects to meet their other needs, but it's some it's definitely You know, not a done deal entirely.

Unknown Speaker 45:05
I'll say really quickly, in terms of negotiating our scope, we really started with our users. I don't think that the grant narrative, as many grant narratives aren't, was actually written after talking to any users. So in our first excuse me, about eight months, we just had really wide ranging conversations with people that use the collections about how they use them, how they would want to use them, how they use other online collections. And from there, we narrowed what we were going to actually build. So all along, it's been the user conversations that have helped us focus our scope.

Unknown Speaker 45:50
So the question, we're all wondering, what would you do differently? I know we have some words to say about.

Unknown Speaker 46:01
I think everyone's looking at me, because I have very strong opinions on what should have been done differently with our grant. First of all, I mean, it's really hard when you have two very differently sized institutions when you have sort of a giant library, and then a much smaller museum. And the museum has this incredible pace of rotations and special exhibitions and, and all this stuff that makes it really hard for them to, to even focus on something else. And I really wish that there had been a planning grant. Because I feel like that would have brought more people on board to begin with. Because right now, some of the struggle is that people just really aren't on board with it, it's just one more thing for them to accommodate, it's one more thing for them, you know, that's just coming down from above. So I do feel like a planning grant would have probably would have made my life a little bit easier. But it also just would have been better for staff to feel like they were involved in some of this decision making, you know, it's I feel like it's, it's a good thing to share authority. The other thing that we don't have the other grants have as a project manager. So, and one of one, I would have really liked that, because I get really bogged down in administrative details, like, you know, for our ri grants, it's like, I need to go to all the grantees and collect their W nine forms. And then I need to liaise with campus development and accounting to get people paid. And none of this is anything that I have any expertise in. And and it kind of detracts on from what I'm supposed to be doing. So I really think that like a project manager, a communications manager is really essential for this kind of thing.

Unknown Speaker 48:03
So I'll just say I sort of based on the last answer I gave, I think we're moving towards more of a user centered perspective, and our museum, and our, our library. But I think there's still a lot of work to be done, I think, the grant writing process, and maybe this would have been radical should have involved, maybe some faculty and students to actually, you know, help the leaders of the museum, the library, think about the real needs that they had, or have. And so it's it's a sort of work in progress. I think, my position and we recently hired a usability developer at the library are helping both institutions think more about centering our users, but we're not there and probably could have done a better job at the beginning.

Unknown Speaker 49:00
All right, thank you for sharing, and being honest about our projects and how we are. Sure, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 49:11
So I get to be a little positive, because I'm moving into an implementation. And so I could see what I will do differently. And as a project manager, they're very project manager things. But the number one is have a project charter. When I came in to this role, I that was one of the first things I tried to do, because as a project manager, you make a charter. But there were a variety of reasons that it didn't go forward. And as being new to the institution, I didn't really feel like I could really make that my Hill to die on. But really, a grant is not a project charter and that, you know, a year in 18 months in you go back to the grant language to make sure that you're meeting the needs of the foundation. I make sure that you know, we're doing all the things we hold Mellon to do. But it gets a little more hairy when we're trying to say wait a minute, are we actually doing what we need to do as part of this? And it's all work doubt it's gone through. But I feel like we definitely I would love now to have had a project charter that I could look back at. And so that's I think, definitely something to push for going forward for, again, our internal needs, balancing that with the promises to the foundation.

Unknown Speaker 50:18
So we're still really early. So we don't know

Unknown Speaker 50:20
what we wish we would have done differently. We might, but we'll get there. So we have time for some questions from the audience. Anyone? I could pass this around to. Yes, Katie.

Unknown Speaker 50:40
You're all Mellon funded?

Unknown Speaker 50:42
Yes. I'll pass the mic. Sorry. We're having like trouble. So technically, we have to.

Unknown Speaker 50:55
So you're all Mellon funded? And although, you know, obviously, different projects, different types of institutions, different scales? Is is you gathering together here today, kind of like you making connections among yourselves, is that something that Mellon is kind of explicitly kind of trying to sort of coordinate these things so that the learning is shared? I mean, obviously, it's helping to serve to solve your specific problems. But presumably, the point is, to try to solve problems for the broader field and each kind of different scenarios, I'm just kind of curious about how much of this is self motivated, how much of this is part of a broader idea for Mellon, or if you have ideas about about making sure that your experiences are, are shared out more broadly?

Unknown Speaker 51:44
So I'll take that question. So Mellon doesn't have at least in this grant line, any sort of formalized collaboration mechanism. When I first started, I searched the Mellon website to find all the other institutions that got academic library and museum collaboration grants. And then I contacted those people to see what they were doing and how they were doing it and what they were thinking about. So it really was a self kind of organizing group. And then, yeah, when PMA got their grant, in the last year, they came on board. And we, we talked about this actually a little last night when we were preparing for this that, you know, it would be great actually, if there was a more formalized way of meeting together when people are working on projects like this.

Unknown Speaker 52:45
Yeah, I have to say, I feel like in some respects, we're all sort of like reinventing the wheel with these grants. And yeah, and it seems kind of like, Why isn't there some space for us to get together? I remember getting that email from Abby, and my first weeks on the job. And I was like, Thank God, I have no idea what I'm doing. So when helped me. So you know, yeah, I do wish there was something like that. We've sort of like banded together on our own. And that's been incredibly useful. But I feel like there, there definitely could be some more resources allotted to that, that would help it so that we're not everyone is just doing the same thing all over again, and trying to figure out all these same problems all over again. Oh, oh, yeah. And there's, there's actually several other people with Mellon grants who could not make it, who have been on our call on our conference calls. So you know, it's been fun to get to know them as well. And some of some of them their grants have ended. So they're no longer in their positions or, you know, moved on to different things. So

Unknown Speaker 54:00
and check out the resources on Carina slide, because the things that they've been putting out your white paper and things I found really useful in my institution, so you're already doing some of stuff. And, and we're like, that's actually one of the next goals that I have. I have a little bit of time left before, you know, either continuing on in implementation or not, and we're hoping to have some externally facing documentation too.

Unknown Speaker 54:23
And also, Amanda, can you raise your hand shout out to Amanda Brown at Milwaukee Art Museum because she also has a one year implement planning grant from melon, so.

Unknown Speaker 54:36
Any other questions? So I'm, well, I'm with the Oakland Museum of California. We actually just got a Mellon grant three weeks ago. So my question to you all is how did you take Once you got the grant, how did you kind of get the rest of the organization involved and get the buy in from other staff members.

Unknown Speaker 55:17
So not to harp on that team thing, but our, our leadership. So we had two principal investigators named on the ground. So the, the director of the library, the director of the museum, they immediately put in place a sponsorship team. So that's kind of the second down level, and that included people Museum and Library. And then those folks decided who from their departments would need to be involved. So it really sort of came top down, which I think was a useful way of doing it for us because it emphasized the importance of the grant. But we also just did I mean, when I came on board, I sat down with every single person in the museum, to talk to them about the grant any questions they had, I also talked to most of our faculty, librarians, Special Collections, staff, and archives as well. So a lot of meetings, but really important to setting the groundwork.

Unknown Speaker 56:21
Similarly to Abby, I had a lot of meetings, but I had a little bit of a leg up, because in our grant, there was already a designated list of I think, 10 advisors, who had been consulted on making the grant. And that was people from each of the different units. So I started with those listed people, but I also just got people to tell me who I should talk to. And then I would say, Oh, I'm brand new, I have never worked at Smith before, you know, big eyes, you know, new person, please sit with me for an hour and tell me about your job. And then at the end, I can make the ask Oh, and you know, can I keep coming to you for questions? Can I invite you to meetings, and people are really helpful there. So they generally said yes, but so having somebody who was totally new to the institution was really helpful. Of course, that has to be in conjunction with the top down that it was it was clear that I had the authority granted to me by the heads of these major institutions. So it was easy to say, but definitely like an outside perspective, I think is useful.

Unknown Speaker 57:21
I would say that the project team did lots and lots of roadshows and met with individual departments. And the meetings were kind of a hybrid, I think of introducing the grant and also a listening session for us to start to discover and, and get a sense of what the pain points are or what the dreams would be. Come around.

Unknown Speaker 57:49
While the mic is moving, I want to give a shout out. If any of you really want to work on museum library collaboration, there are five, five job open or four job openings between college and the Five College Consortium, not on my project directly. But there's a digital strategy strategist position in the library. And that's a permanent, not grant funded position. So look into that. And a grant funded assistant registrar in the museum. And then two grant funded positions on a very exciting museum collaboration project that's been funded by Mellon with the Five College Consortium. So that's a project manager and a data specialist. And I tweeted all those links on Twitter, but you can find them also at Smith that edu.

Unknown Speaker 58:31
Thanks, I also am a melon grantee at the Hammer Museum. I'm curious as to how you all are thinking about how your institutions can sustain your projects past the life of the grant, if that's conversations you're having now or something you're worried about, like I am.

Unknown Speaker 58:58
Yeah, that's a huge concern. And part of that has to be for us at least, building documentation and workflows. So some of that just has to be as like, part of the day to day you build it in. And one thing we're trying to explore too, is having, you know, like rotating library representatives on the museum's, like programming and exhibits committee. And, you know, what ways can we, you know, send all different types of staff and faculty from the library over to the museum? Can any of the museum folks serve on any of our library committees? And so trying to make those built in positions rather than I mean, the exhibitions and the research that we're doing are great, but, you know, workflows and sort of like permanently identified sort of liaison roles I think are are part of how we're trying to consider sustainability in terms of partnership.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:07
I think we're just about at time, but I'll say very quickly. We wrote that into our grants. So the library committed to sustain the technology, at least that we're building. So that's good. But I do think putting people on committees like in more permanent ways, like Jessica mentioned, will also be helpful in sustaining pass the grant period.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:34
All right. Thank you, everyone, for coming. If you have more questions, you can come up to us. And if we lose melon people in the audience, if you want to exchange information, we're more than happy to.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:45
We want you guys on our conference calls. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:50
All right. Thanks, everyone.