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How the smallest state in Australia ended up leading the Australian GLAM sector: the power of collaboration when you only have a small project budget

In early 2016 the University of Tasmania Library was successful in obtaining a small Research Infrastructure grant, to facilitate the selection and implementation of an electronic archive management system, in order to make the Library’s unique primary source material globally discoverable online.  This paper will outline the extraordinary journey that the Library went on with our externally recruited project manager, a core group of enthusiastic academics and our wider Tasmanian GLAM sector partners.  How what started as a seemingly small infrastructure project, almost fell over but ended up becoming a roadmap to build connections across the state’s cultural collections and beyond.

The Library’s Special & Rare Collection, includes rare and valuable information resources and artefacts, including the Royal Society of Tasmania Library and other special collections of national and international significance. A large proportion of this collection is undiscoverable, as it remains unprocessed and undescribed.

A successful Research Infrastructure bid saw the allocation of $200K to the Library, to select and implement an electronic archive management system over a 12 month period.  This paper will chart the journey from the excitement of our initial bid success, the successful recruitment of an experienced and enthusiastic Project Manager and the establishment of an engaged Steering Committee, comprising of senior university academics, Information Technology Services representation and senior representatives from the wider Tasmanian GLAM sector.  On to the developing despair of a project beset with problems that emerged soon after the project began.  Issues such an personality clashes, unrealistic timeframe and budget, lack of internal project support and Library staff capacity, all of which put enormous pressure on our Project Manager, who at one point almost resigned, as well as the wider Library team.

By the time this paper is presented, this first stage will have been completed with implementation finished.  Not one solution because there wasn’t one but a suite of solutions selected for implementation, as well as a roadmap for the future for both the University Library and our wider GLAM Partners.  How did we turn this project around?  A dedicated Project Manager with a commitment to the state of Tasmania, who wanted to ‘see us over the line’.  50+ organisations and individuals from around the country and abroad consulted, with incredible engagement from contacts made, all showing willingness to share knowledge and documentation, who could see what we wanted to do and who wanted to be a part of that.