Top 10 OCLC Next Posts of 2019

Andy Havens

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It’s always interesting to see what posts our readers enjoy and share the most. And as for so many other publications, the beginning of a new year seems like a great time to review a “top 10” list. What follow are our most-viewed posts from 2019, in reverse ranked order. As always, interlibrary loan topics are very well appreciated by our readers, followed closely by metadata and change management … along with some unique additions.

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What’s the magic formula for successful change? Communication + planning

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Tyler is passionate about helping libraries turn change into opportunity, and as Director of OCLC Implementation, he supports libraries through diverse transformations, including everything from workflow analysis to library technology implementations.

Depending on who you ask and where you look, change management has any number of important components. However, I’ve found that the actual process of initiating change often falls into two key buckets: planning and communication. Planning is critical, of course, but how, when, and what is communicated can make or break a change initiative. In fact, communication often leads to feedback that helps refine plans, making it even more powerful.

Unfortunately, communication can be an afterthought or initiated only when a change effort is at risk. Sometimes it’s just words on a page explaining the plan. It shouldn’t be, it’s so much more, and can have long-term negative consequences if overlooked or undervalued. Successful change initiatives are communicated like an internal public relations campaign. Every aspect should be orchestrated to increase awareness and buy-in.

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The OCLC Global Council survey on discovery and fulfillment: an important baseline

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How do library users navigate their paths from an initial point-of-need to the final moment of getting the resources they require? That process can be as fast as a single search and one click, or it can encompass many stops and starts, false trails, frustrations, and wrong turns … as I think we, as information professionals, can testify from our own research efforts.

Understanding and improving those journeys is among the most important work we do.

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Let’s cook up some metadata consistency

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Let’s say you’re writing a cookbook and describing ingredients. For sure you’re going to want to be consistent from one recipe to the next. If you don’t want to confuse your readers, it’s good not to refer to one amount as “a pinch” in one recipe and “a dollop” or “a smidge” in another.

Then you look around and realize that other people are writing cookbooks and they have some standards. That’s not a pinch, to them; it’s a teaspoon to some or 5 milliliters to others. What you call a “chunk” everybody else calls “a quarter cup” or “32 grams.” So, you need to be consistent not just within your own cookbook, but with others’ cookbooks, regardless of the dish being prepared—roasts, stir fries, desserts, soups, etc.

Librarians and archivists in data repositories are learning to think like this as well. Because the data being deposited for reuse has much greater value to their institutions when the metadata attached to it are consistent at the study level, the data level, and the file level.

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2 miles or 10,000 miles—ILL makes us one library

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Recently, the interlibrary loan (ILL) staff at the Loyola Notre Dame Library (LOY) tracked the locations around the world from which they borrow and lend library materials. The exercise was prompted by a student who, after being shown ILL by staff members Kate Strain and Zach Gahs-Buccheri, asked, “What’s the farthest library that you’ve gotten an item from?”

Turns out the answer was the Dalton McCaughey Library at the University of Melbourne in Australia, which is 10,038 miles from LOY in Baltimore, Maryland, US.

What a great example of how ILL makes us one big library with endless shelves. No library can possibly have on hand every item it needs. For that we rely on the resource sharing communities we build. In fact, some libraries keep things in their collections to circulate primarily via ILL rather than locally. That’s the commitment they have to sharing resources.

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Public libraries generate social capital that can save lives

Chris Cyr, Ph.D.

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When disaster strikes, libraries are there to help. In California, where many have been forced from their homes due to forest fires and power outages, libraries like Folsom Public Library have become a refuge for people who need to charge devices, use WiFi, or just have a place to go. In March of 2011, a powerful earthquake triggered enormous tsunami waves in the Tōhoku region of Japan, killing thousands of people, driving hundreds of thousands from their homes, and leaving millions without electricity and water service. In the months after this horrific disaster, as hundreds of government services, NGOs, and private and international relief agencies struggled to help communities recover, residents also looked to public libraries for help.

Why is that? Libraries don’t provide food, water, electricity, or medical services. In many cases, libraries had suffered the same catastrophic losses as their neighbors; staff had perished or been injured, buildings completely destroyed or unusable, resources gutted. Why, then, did people so quickly turn to libraries after a disaster? Because of social capital.

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Library Futures: Three very special kinds of networking

Helene Blowers

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I’ve been to literally hundreds of library events over the years. Of all kinds. The one thing they all seem to have in common—according to both attendees and people who help plan and produce the events—is the opportunity for “networking.” I put “networking” in quotes, because I think we use it as a catch-all term for a variety of activities.

“Networking” can be, I think, anything from informal hanging out with colleagues to actively cultivating specific professional relationships with new influencers. All of which can be enjoyable. But it leaves me thinking about the specific networking opportunities that events can offer.

Having just attended the first of our OCLC “Library Futures: Community Catalysts” Regional Council Conferences in Phoenix, Arizona, I realized that these membership events provide three different kinds of networking opportunities that are invaluable, especially to career-climbing professionals.

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Open content: where we are and where we’re going

Rachel Frick

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Last year during Open Access Week, I wrote to you to encourage your participation in our Open Content Survey. The timing was fortuitous, as there was (and is) a great appetite for understanding the evolving open content landscape and what it means for libraries. At OCLC, we were forging ahead with research, product development, MARC proposals, publisher agreements, and more. All with the goal of enhancing the visibility and accessibility of open content for library users. You can learn more about responses to the Open Content Survey in this results summary, and watch a recording of our “Works in Progress” webinar, “The Shift to Open at University and Research Libraries Worldwide.” In this webinar, my colleague Titia van der Werf (Senior Program Officer, OCLC Research) shares more results from the study.

Now it’s Open Access Week 2019, and over the last year we’ve made some excellent progress.

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Always judge a book by its cover

Brittany Brannon

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We asked students to identify the types of containers from which online information is taken. Information containers can be important, obviously, because they provide critical context when evaluating the quality of sources. One said:

“This one looks like a—wait, I can’t tell what that is, but it looks like a book.”

Wait. It… looks like a book? Let’s try again:

“Pretty sure it had an ISBN number. It’s an article. Oh, no, books usually have—well, you can download the entire book or download the chapter. So, I’m thinking it’s a book. And it doesn’t have the edition, but I kind of want to say it’s a book about this book.”

That’s closer, but we can do better.

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To the rescue: How academic libraries can support humanities monographs through open access

Suzanne Kemperman

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When we think about open access (OA) publishing in academia, it’s very often about articles. That is, relatively short, data- and research-focused pieces in peer-reviewed journals. Trends in open science, public funding, cost containment, and library collection development have driven a lot of those conversations, and they’re important.

Today, though, I’d like to talk about the scholarly monograph. Book-length content published as a stand-alone work is not the norm for many of the hard sciences. But it is often the end result of important work done in the humanities, liberal arts, and social sciences—and often required for tenure and promotion in those disciplines.

The trends we’re seeing in OA for article-level materials are very promising. But they also often work against monograph publishing, which is not good for academic presses working in the humanities.

There is an opportunity here, however, for academic libraries to engage in OA publishing to promote and protect the work being done by their humanities scholars.

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