BL Labs Symposium 2018 – An inspiration to people; knowledge to be shared, things to be learnt

I have been inspired by the visit to the British Library Labs Symposium 2018 and have done some reading on the GLAM sector. More will be posted on my next group blog post.

The British Labs symposium brought together a vast amount of new ideas and innovations that used the British Library’s digital collections and data to the table, expanding on what we have learnt in class over the course of these last few weeks. It showed us the applications of learnt theory in a wider context and showcased bigger and better ideas that both have been implemented in libraries and beyond in recent years and are yet to be fully implemented. Some of these included Digital Scholarships, 3D imaging and Artificial Intelligence. It is certain that an integrated future with these at the forefront will be beneficial and exciting, not only for Library and Information Professionals but above all for the general public as well.

Daniel Pett’s keynote on Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) were one of the aspects of the symposium that I found more interesting.

Daniel Pett, Head of Digital and IT at the Fitzwilliam Museum, the University of Cambridge
BL Labs Symposium, 2018

GLAM is essentially used to describe the cultural heritage sector as a whole and it is based on the concept of memory and history (Dempsy, 2000). Each institution in GLAM has interconnected roles in collecting, curating, preserving and sharing pieces of the community’s cultural heritage to better interpret this information for the public (International Librarians Network, 2015).  Lately, GLAM institutions are transforming from physical to virtual as we are now connecting all the knowledge centres on the planet together into a single global network (Friedman, 2005). For example, museums, such as The Fitzwilliam Museum and the National Gallery, are hosting virtual exhibitions and tours. However, all GLAMs, even non-virtual ones, are needed for an informed society as they access and preserve the physical remains of human cultural and biological heritage (Clark et al., 2002).

But GLAM is facing a series of challenges lately ranging from attracting and retaining funding for these institutions, staff retention and recruitment within the GLAM sector to a scarcity of skills amongst current humanities researchers. At the symposium, Daniel Pett discussed these challenges and how to overcome them. It was valuable to learn that digital preservation is becoming a massive issue, especially since many tools that contain cultural memory are now moving towards a fee-based assessed system (e.g. Flickr and Google maps) and some, such as Storify, have even completely shut down.labpic2

Part of the reason the GLAM sector is facing so much trouble is that users are not that concerned about where they find their information, whether in a library or a museum or an archive as long as they find it (Hedegaard 2003, p.2). It is clear that the GLAM sector needs to change and the best way to do so is through digital research and development. A great example is Daniel Pett’s work and his development of the British Museum’s 3D capture system whereby viewers can view artefacts online fully without having to restrict viewing to a two-dimensional image. I hope that the GLAM sector can be re-imagined over the course of the next few years so that our cultural heritage can be preserved.


Clark, J. T., Slator, B. M., Perrizo, W., Landrum, J. E., Frovarp, R., Bergstrom, A., Ramaswamy, S., and Jockcheck, W. (2002). Digital archive network for anthropology. Journal of Digital Information, Vol. 2, No. 4 {Online} Available at:

Dempsey L (2000). Scientific, industrial, and cultural heritage. A shared approach: A research framework for digital libraries, museums and archives. Issue 22, 1999.

Friedman, T. L. (2005). The world is flat: A brief history of the globalized world in the 21st century. London: Penguin Group.

Hedegaard, R. (2003). Benefits of archives, libraries and museums working together. {Online} Available at:

International Librarians Network, 2015. Discussion Topic: GLAM – Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. {Online} Available at:

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