Visitors and residents: different roads, different maps

2017-02-21 Visitors and Residents Roads and maps1

“The map is not the territory.”

That phrase is probably the best-known quote of Alfred Korzybski, the famous Polish-American semantic scholar. He was making the seemingly obvious point that the words we use to describe something are not the thing itself. Nor does a description change the thing itself. Why does this matter? Well, the more layers of abstraction we put between ourselves and actual things, the harder it becomes to relate them back to the “nonverbal domain” as he called it. We can fall down a rabbit hole of concepts and constructs that, while interesting, may not be, well…useful.

That’s why, as we’ve spread the word about our “Digital Visitors and Residents” work, I’ve been gratified to see librarians and institutions look at our tools not as clever metaphors or abstractions. Instead, they are using them in a variety of ways to make real, valuable changes in how they interact with their library users and potential users at the point-of-need.

In short, as long as you look up from the map often to take in your surroundings, it can function as a useful guide rather than

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Looking at interlibrary loan, 2016 edition

Christa Starck

Christa ILL titles

Everyone likes reading about lists and trends. I guess it’s part of our natural curiosity to wonder who’s in the top ten and to analyze what direction our culture or profession appears to be headed.

In the case of interlibrary loan (ILL), it’s also a lot of fun! To bibliophiles like me, it’s interesting to look at who’s reading what and which books are the most popular based on our ILL transactions.

The ILL community enjoys the data as well. Last year, the most popular post in the Next blog—based on page views and unique visitors—was the one on ILL trends to watch. And in December, a person on Twitter posted about how eager she was to see what new trends might be revealed in this year’s look at ILL statistics.

Well, here are the latest themes in the interlibrary loan world based on our data. Comparing it with last year, it’s more of the same with one new finding.

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How flexible is your future collection?

Katie Birch

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You can’t predict the future. But together we can prepare for it.

What attribute of your library is most valuable to your community? For a long time, the answer to that question might have been “our collection.” For generations, libraries have spent much of their budgets on acquiring and managing local materials, but that is shifting. These days, what the library owns isn’t as important as how it supports its users and community. Access to materials must keep up with needs that are changing faster than any one institution can manage.

It is nearly impossible for any one library to hit the moving target of comprehensive access to relevant content. Working together, however, libraries can take advantage of a characteristic that may be the most important for collection access going forward: flexibility.

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Why aren’t you asking “Why?”

Drew Bordas

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At home, I get asked “Why?” all the time. I have three young children and their capacity for questioning is nearly endless. Some recent examples: “Why can’t we have a small pig as a pet?”; “Why do we say better instead of gooder?”; and the classic, “Why do I have to take a nap?” As parents, we do our best to answer these questions because we want to encourage curiosity and an understanding of how the world works.

It struck me recently, though, that as adults at work, we sometimes lose this natural curiosity…or it is discouraged to the point where we just quit asking.

And that’s a bad thing.

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Share your library space pictures!

Andy Havens

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Since last October, libraries have been sharing pictures of their spaces with us for us to pass along on Twitter and Facebook. We’ve gotten some great pictures—many thanks to everyone who has been contributing. We’ve seen folks in the community sharing and liking these so we wanted to put them in one place for you to see.

If you’d like to add your picture to our collection and maybe see it featured in the future, send a photo (minimum size 1920 x 1080; JPG, please) to photos@oclc.org. Please also include a brief caption with the name of the library, city and country. By submitting photos this way, you confirm that you own the image rights and agree to OCLC’s use of them in digital and print marketing and communications.

So many great library spaces, so many great pictures. Thanks again, and we look forward to seeing yours!

 

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Koo Chen-Fu Memorial Library at NTU College of Social Sciences in Taipei, Taiwan

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The long tail of library discovery

Chip Nilges

long-tail

One of our first OCLC symposium speakers was Chris Anderson, the technology writer and former editor of Wired. He spoke for us at ALA Annual back in 2005 on the subject of his famous Wired article and soon-to-be published best-seller, The Long Tail. Like many others in our profession, I found the subject to be both interesting and appropriate to libraries, as did others whom we quoted in a NextSpace article at the time.

Libraries have been collecting, preserving and promoting “long tail materials” for centuries, of course. That’s the long tail of content. But we’ve also found that, when it comes to WorldCat, there’s a long tail for discovery.

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Global Council at a crossroads

Peter Sidorko

Global Council Select1I recently attended the OCLC Asia Pacific Regional Council Meeting in Hong Kong where the theme was “Libraries at the Crossroads.” It was a great topic, one that is relevant to us all. As librarians, we continuously face crossroads—changing patron preferences, evolving institutions, new technologies. We had excellent discussions about how we can best move forward, together. It’s the same theme we’ll explore at the upcoming Europe, Middle East and Africa Regional Council Meeting in Germany in February. I’m greatly looking forward to continuing the discussion.

This “crossroads” analogy also has framed recent Global Council discussions and decisions. At our meeting this past November, Delegates agreed to sharpen our focus on member activities, such as OCLC regional meetings and product, user and working groups that advance the interests of our member institutions.

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Top posts of 2016: Big data, convenience, ILL trends, linked data and…shyness?

Andy Havens

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Shyness? Yes, shyness. Along with big data, the convenience imperative, interlibrary loan trends and linked data, shyness was one of the topics on our blog that got the most traffic last year.

The OCLC Next blog launched in February of 2016. Since then, readers have stopped by nearly 60,000 times to check out 54 posts. From those, we’ve chosen five of the most popular to share with you again.

From everyone who’s worked on OCLC Next during its first year…thank you for reading and sharing our work and making the blog so successful! We hope you’ll continue reading. Have a happy holiday season and joyful New Year!

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From crossroads to breakthroughs

Hsueh-hua Chen

crossroads-breakthroughs

Connecting users to knowledge and helping them achieve their learning goals is a major reason why we become librarians. And being part of a community that helps us do that is inspiring and energizing. Recently, at the National Taiwan University, I was part of a significant breakthrough of historical documents, which was made possible by library cooperation.

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