The future of libraries (and archives?)

I currently have my students thinking about the future of the archives profession, as a way of getting them to review the course (there’s a reason why archives use Janus as a symbol). It was therefore nice to see that the Australian Library profession has been thinking about the future, too.



The ALIA Futures report says that they will work with educators and the sector as a whole to develop greater technological awareness and abilities in the information management sector, continue to work on copyright reform and generally make libraries better for all; however, they do not address how they will work with others in the information management sector, and archives, records and manuscripts are missing from the executive summary.

“The nation’s nine collecting institutions are the National Library of Australia, the State Libraries of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, the ACT Heritage Library and the Northern Territory Library.”

While I recognise that the role of ALIA is to promote librarians, first and foremost, it is this kind of rhetoric which made archivists leave the Association in the first place, and which continues to dog discussions within the broader GLAM sector (or GLARM as ALIA would have it).

“Local history collections

can be found in public libraries, while government departments, companies, schools,

universities and other organisations have their own unique collections.”

(, p. 5)

Taking the broader view, the Futures report, and the policies and advocacy positions provided in the collecting institutions report, does speak to the concerns of GLAM institutions – digitisation of ‘national treasures’; the ability to collect, store, preserve and make content accessible; linked data; legal deposit and copyright reform; ‘managing volume’, by which they mean the growth in physical and digital collections and the demands this makes on purpose built storage and user generated content and value adding to collection information (‘co-creation’) are the main themes of the collecting institutions paper.

I look forward to hearing from ALIA in my educator’s hat (and Presidential robes) and hope to hear more about conversations with the G [L]ARM institutions in due course.  I may even have to rejoin!



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Archivist, historian, avid reader

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