9 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 300 2020 Another conclusion reached at the Ottawa Summit was that memory institutions are increasingly playing new roles, despite the fact that the popular image of GLAMs remains that of institutions consisting of book and archive shelves and exhibition rooms. Examples of these new roles include providing comfortable spaces for people to gather, welcoming new immigrants and refugees, even providing high-speed internet access to those who need it. The importance of public spaces, whether a library or a gallery or a museum, is now only beginning to be widely understood and, throughout the world, millions of dollars are being invested in buildings that invite people in. Sometimes these spaces are called urban living rooms, or third spaces. 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. During the Ottawa Summit, we also determined that one of the most misunderstood roles for GLAM institutions is the link between their activities and economic development. The need to “prove our value” is one subject that comes up a lot. We were reminded that a study made for the British Library by the firm Oxford Economics in 2013,4 did estimate that for every £1 of public funding the British Library receives annually, £4 and 90 pence was generated for the UK economy and that five-to-one ratio proved to be similar in Canada, according to recent studies undertaken for the Toronto Public Library and the Ottawa Public Library.5 Unfortunately, while this value is well known by memory institutions themselves, it is virtually unknown by the political, economic, and media elites who spend very little time in GLAMs—especially libraries and archives—those who prefer to purchase rather than to borrow, and those whose economic status means that free services are not really necessary. Cultural consumption for this group means something very different from that of many library users. And yet these are often the people whom we need to reach in order to demonstrate our value.
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