Are you too comfortable in your culture?


Culture matters

A lot has been written about organizational culture, but there is little consensus on what it actually is and how to change it. Two things we know for sure: organizational culture exists and it plays a crucial role in shaping behavior.

Why should we think about culture? Because your culture is how your organization does things. And how you do things is critical to your performance and success.

According to the Katzenbach Center, 96% of employees say some change to their organizational culture is needed, and 51% think their culture requires a major overhaul. So even if you’re comfortable, you probably should be thinking about how your organization’s culture impacts both goals and the quality-of-life for your employees.

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Beating Watson at a different game

Eric van Lubeek

robot handshake

Recently I attended a meeting of the Dutch Association of Information Professionals (KNVI) where an IBM representative demonstrated Watson, the company’s famed supercomputer. Watson uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of data. The system can be fed an enormous collection of information and used to support complete knowledge domains or industries.

The demonstration was fascinating as I watched Watson receive and answer questions in natural language about cancer treatment and diagnosis.

As I left the meeting, I wondered what the impact of technology platforms like Watson will have on libraries. Clearly, the use of Watson, with its incredible ability to organize and analyze data, offers endless possibilities that will result in further automation of the information profession. What place will libraries have in a world of Watsons?

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Happy Customer Service Week: Hitting the mark


What’s the best customer service you’ve ever helped provide?

The first week of October is Customer Service Week, an international celebration of the importance of customer service and of the people who serve and support customers on a daily basis. Librarians understand customer service as well as anyone. They wear their customer service hats every day in addition to all of the others they wear. So to celebrate Customer Service Week, we asked some of the folks at OCLC to share the service they’re most proud of having provided.

It was a hard question to get answers to because, like most good support staff, they want every interaction to be the best from the customer’s standpoint. But I think it’s important to share the stories we’re proud of. They inspire us to do more every day in hopes of hitting that mark again and again.

I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I do. If you have any suggestions or ideas for how your experience as an OCLC member could be improved, please don’t hesitate to email me directly at

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Happy Customer Service Week: Wow Moments!


What’s the best customer service you’ve ever received?

At OCLC, the goal of our customer service team—and all of our staff—is to support libraries better than anyone in the world. One way we do this is by focusing on “Wow!” support moments. Not every support interaction is going to be a “Wow!” moment, but when you have one, you remember it for a long time. We know that many librarians wear the “Customer Service Representative” hat in addition to all the others they wear, and that it’s a challenging and rewarding role. So to celebrate Customer Service Week here at OCLC, we thought it would be fun to ask our own staff around the world for their “Wow!” moments on the receiving end of customer service.

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Celebrating the first 500 WMS libraries

Andrew K. Pace


A decade of remarkable change

In 2006, four library system vendors dominated the integrated library system market. OCLC partnered with most and was just beginning to consider its own solution. In the intervening decade, we’ve seen a lot of consolidation and rapid innovation.

Fast-forward to 2016. The ILS is now a legacy system, “next-gen” is practically passé, and Marshall Breeding has dubbed a new breed of library management and discovery services the “Library Service Platform.” Today, OCLC’s WorldShare Management Services (WMS) is one of only two offerings in this space—a true multi-tenant, cloud-based suite of services for managing and discovering the purchased and licensed collections of libraries. It took only five years for OCLC to attract 500 libraries to WMS, becoming a leading provider in a space that it didn’t even occupy a decade ago.

That would be a major achievement in any industry, by any company. That it was achieved by a nonprofit library cooperative is credit to the unique power behind that success—our members.

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Multiplying the power of place

Katie Birch

power-of-placeIt’s easy to find digital items online—pictures, videos, maps, etc.—that can connect you to another place, person or library. What may not be as immediately apparent is that physical objects can also connect users to libraries in many different places. As someone who works with our interlibrary loan data, I see fantastic examples of distant libraries establishing relationships that leverage physical collections. In doing so, they improve how local users experience their local library.

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The scholarly record…now on Twitter

Brian Lavoie

scholarly-recordLiterary criticism is not new. Conducting it via Twitter is.

In early 2016, distinguished Shakespearean scholar Brian Vickers published The One King Lear, a volume intended to address, and put to rest, a point of scholarly debate suggesting the play may have been revised after its initial publication. Another scholar, Holger Syme, found Vickers’ book wanting and shared his criticism in a series of 500+ tweets. Vickers, in turn, found Syme’s critique wanting, retorting: “He trivializes literary criticism, reducing it to attention-catching sound bites. Is this the way to go?”

In a print-based world, Syme’s criticism would have appeared as a formal article in a traditional journal.  Not so in the digital, networked world. Yet no academic library is likely to collect these tweets and curate them.

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From branches to roots

genealogy-computerFor a very, very long time, the success of genealogy enthusiasts depended on one key attribute: the ability to travel. If you wanted to get your hands on passenger manifests, family histories, local church records, death certificates, marriage licenses and all other manner of ancestral data, you had to travel to the source—to city halls, churches, local newspaper archives and libraries.

Obviously, that’s not the case today. As a novice genealogist, I was able to trace my family history back to France in the late 15th century, but I certainly didn’t do it via planes, trains and automobiles. Like so many others, I did most of my research online. That’s a fundamental change in how both amateurs and professional historians approach the subject.

What has stayed the same, however, is the importance of libraries in genealogical research. Because libraries, more than many other institutions, have been the ones to put all that great, local, historical content online.

All your users need is a library card, an internet connection and a few lessons. Let me share some of what I’ve found out with you, and with them.

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Celebrating 45 years of WorldCat

Scott Seaman

WC-45-blog-color-green[1]Ohio University’s Alden Library was the first library to use WorldCat to catalog a book online. It was August 26, 1971, the day the OCLC Online Union Catalog and Shared Cataloging System began operation. Catalogers at Ohio University cataloged 133 books online from a single terminal that day.

Our contribution and participation in the creation of WorldCat with the submission of the first record is an incredible legacy and an incredible part of our history. And what WorldCat has become in the 45 years since is just as extraordinary. It speaks to the dedication and the hard work of librarians everywhere.

I know firsthand that sense of dedication.

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