July 25, 2016

Mapping the Landscapes Focus Group Final Report

The “Mapping the Landscapes” Focus Group project, an initiative of the Coalition to Advance Learning in Archives, Libraries, and Museums, collected data from the cultural heritage field on continuing education and professional development (CE/PD) needs between August 2015 and June 2016. The project was funded through a federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and managed by the not-for-profit Educopia Institute. Consultants from LYRASIS facilitated four focus groups at major cultural heritage conferences (Society of American Archivists, American Association for State and Local History, American Library Association, and the American Alliance of Museums) and two online/virtual focus groups, with a total of 61 participants.

Research focused on resources used for CE/PD (“providers” of workshops and courses), course topics recently taken and desired for the future, skills development, selection factors for CE/PD, and collaboration and cross-sector training trends.

Participants in the six focus groups were found to be active consumers of cultural heritage CE/PD. They identified 191 CE/PD providers, and described 142 training sessions they had taken in the past year. They are interested in future training on a wide variety of subjects ranging from grant writing to advocacy, leadership, digital preservation and copyright. These desired classes aligned with the technical and management skills the focus group participants wanted to develop. While participants listed a wide variety of reasons for selecting specific classes, cost, geographic location, timing, and duration of training were leading factors in selection.

The majority of focus group participants had previously taken part in collaborative projects with institutions and individuals across the cultural heritage sectors, and saw many advantages and some barriers to these types of activities. While not as many had taken part in cross-sector training, they saw many advantages to doing so, and believed it would be beneficial on a personal level and to their organization. The focus group participants outlined some key topics they felt would be beneficial if
offered across cultural heritage sectors.

Future researchers who may want to replicate the focus group study should concentrate on reaching the major fields in the cultural heritage community (archives, libraries, museums, and historical societies), and also the subfields within each discipline.


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.