8 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 300 2020 For those of us who spend countless hours with works of art, artifacts, books and archives, these questions might sound ridiculous. Yet, they are being asked on a daily basis, despite the fact that more people than ever are visiting galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. This counter-intuitive fact led the British Library to conclude in a recent document that: The more screen-based our lives, it seems, the greater the perceived value of real human encounters and physical artefacts: activity in each realm feeds interest in the other.3 Following are some of the conclusions the summit participants reached in December 2016. First of all, and this was no surprise, GLAMs are not unfamiliar at all with the use of information technology and they have a very strong presence “on screens.” In fact, GLAMs are very often among the early adopters of new technologies. Participants were treated to many real-life examples of successful innovation in the GLAM community due to technology. But they were also reminded that technology is a source of both challenges and opportunities. On the challenges side, there is the need to find the resources to acquire technology, and to hire and train the people who know how to make the most of it. On the opportunities side, technology allows us to reach our users where they are, which is mostly online. But perhaps the greatest challenge—which is also the greatest opportunity—comes from the fact that the more people use the web to access our collections, the greater their appetite for visiting our actual physical spaces. Essentially, memory institutions cannot de- invest in their in-person services in order to invest in their virtual services. GLAMs have to do both. There is a magic to these spaces: memory institutions, such as libraries and archives, represent not only safety, but freedom as well. Freedom to think and to question, to create and, of course, to disagree. And this freedom is at the heart of democratic societies.
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