Editorial image of protests with sign that reads No Justice, No peace

Building Connections: Community Engagement and Inclusion Trends in Cultural Institutions, the 2023 Lyrasis Research Report, explores the work of libraries, archives and museums to continue their outreach efforts and expand community inclusion during and after the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lyrasis Consulting staff members Tom Clareson and Leigh Grinstead worked with market research consultants from Puro Research in late spring 2023 to conduct primary and secondary research on community inclusion trends. Steps included:

  • A literature review from the library, archives, museum and historical society communities, conducted by Puro Research staff, to understand the latest developments in community outreach, inclusion, involvement and engagement.
  • A series of focus groups/listening sessions with thought leaders from cultural organizations to hear detailed information on their work within their communities.
  • A survey project across cultural institution types to verify and quantify trends from the literature review and focus groups.

Highlights and trends from these research efforts include:

  • Cultural associations and individual organizations are strengthening their focus on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) issues, including addressing DEIA in policies, standards, accreditation and programming and making DEIA central in conference themes.
  • At libraries, archives and museums, there is a renewed local focus in programming, celebrating area residents and addressing older populations.
  • Institutions are concentrating on digitization efforts to both provide information to their user communities and to expand the reach of their organizations. Digitization increased among smaller institutions, and across all organization types.
  • Libraries, archives and museums are celebrating more immersive and interactive user experiences and making modifications of physical spaces to make them more accessible and inclusive.
  • Virtual services and remote use boomed during periods of COVID closures. While some cultural organizations are refocusing on their in-person services, many changed the delivery paradigm for reference, programming and other activities, and continue to operate these “re-engineered” services. Most will run leaner, blended organizations.
  • Utilizing partnerships is a key method for libraries, archives and museums to become more involved with their communities.
  • Cultural organizations face continuing concerns but are resolved to offer inclusive customer service despite political divisiveness across the country.

For more information and insights on these trends, please see the Lyrasis Research Report at https://doi.org/10.48609/YKYD-W448.

Lyrasis Research & Innovation

The Research & Innovation division at Lyrasis has for many years written open access publications intended to provide our members with information about GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) industry trends, peer activities and organizational problem solving. Please visit our Institutional Repository to see more survey reports like this one, grant reports, Catalyst Fund documentation and more, all openly available to both Lyrasis member and the wider GLAM community.

About Lyrasis

Lyrasis is a community-supported membership organization whose mission is to support enduring access to the world’s shared academic, scientific and cultural heritage through leadership in open technologies, content services, digital solutions and collaboration with archives, libraries, museums and knowledge communities worldwide.

Editorial image of protests by photographer ©Steve Eberhardt