What is “container collapse” and why should librarians and teachers care?

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In 2004, OCLC published Information Format Trends: Content, Not Containers. In the context of this study, “container” meant physical media:

More than ever, content consumers are “format agnostic” in that they do not care much what sort of container—such as a book, journal, blog, or a Web page—the content comes from… For libraries and content sellers, this means the processes of acquisition, organization, and delivery of content need to change to accommodate the expectations of our communities.

In today’s smartphone world, when all of our media can be scrunched down into one device, we face what the research team calls container collapse (#containercollapse). The visual context and cues that print containers provide used to help individuals identify a document’s origins and measure its value. These cues are now obscured or more difficult to discern. In digital format, a document is decanted from its original container and must be carefully examined to determine the journey it took to reach the individual. As knowledge professionals, we care deeply about the origin and authority of the content our users and communities consume.

And guess what? Students care, too!

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Sometimes, to change anything … you have to change everything

Greta Southard

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Change management is never easy, that’s why it’s often tackled in bite-size chunks. To be successful, it has to be intentional and collaborative. And for a public library, defining change can’t just depend on the director’s vision. It has to belong to the entire organization and be driven by the needs of the community.

We recently wrapped up the challenging—but energizing—task of developing a detailed strategic plan. This was a first step in changing the way we do business. We’ll still do many of the same things we’ve always done, but our perspective has shifted to place the customer firmly in the center of everything we do.

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Three things librarians wanting to engage with Wikipedia should think about first

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Wikipedia is big. Maybe not googol big, but 5.4+ million articles in English is up there. The platform is the fifth-most accessed website globally, and billions of edits have been saved since the online encyclopedia launched in 2001.

Though most librarians have read Wikipedia articles and work with patrons who use it regularly, few librarians actually edit Wikipedia. There are good reasons libraries need Wikipedia, and vice versa. So how could you get started with Wikipedia at your library?

One way to get a handle on something big is to start small. That’s what I’ve been learning from public library staff in my role as the OCLC Wikipedian-in-Residence for the past 16 months, which included interviewing public library staff and teaching a nine-week online training program.

Here are three surprisingly simple things about Wikipedia that public library staff involved with the Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together project say their peers and colleagues should know.

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Libraries and RDM: Three decisions, three components, three realities

Brian Lavoie

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New data mandates, open science advocacy, and replication of research results have focused attention on data management practices during the research process. This, in turn, has led to the development of services, infrastructure, and other resources to support Research Data Management (RDM) needs at research universities.

But how are research universities addressing the challenge of managing research data throughout the research life cycle?

The Realities of Research Data Management is a four-part series from OCLC Research that looks at the context, influences, and choices that research universities face in acquiring RDM capacity. We launched this project to pull back the curtain a bit on how universities work through the process of acquiring RDM capacity. Our findings are derived from detailed case studies of four research universities:

  • University of Edinburgh (UK)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (US)
  • Monash University (Australia)
  • Wageningen University & Research (Netherlands)

Our focus is on three major decision points that universities face in acquiring RDM capacity.

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Three reasons Wikipedia needs libraries, and vice-versa

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We have a pretty good idea of what it means to be a librarian or library worker. We know what the values, talents, and goals are for many in our profession. On the other hand, what does it mean to call yourself a “Wikipedian?” Is it just an interest? Or do you need to reach certain milestones? If we’re going to examine the intersection of both institutions, it would help to know.

In the broadest sense, someone is a Wikipedian if they contribute. The more you contribute, the better, of course. But even adding a few citations or making one important correction qualifies you. And that openness, that ideal of collaborative creation and curation is what, I think, really makes these two communities natural allies.

Wikipedians and librarians share similar passions and purposes. Working together, we create a better and stronger Wikipedia with more visibility for library resources. And there are three ways that our communities reflect each other in the work we do.

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Making a smarter library…and a smarter cooperative

Helene Blowers

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Late last month, the OCLC FY18 Global Council meeting was held in Dublin, Ohio, USA. Global Council is comprised of 48 member-elected delegates, each representing one of three regions (the Americas; Europe, Middle East, and Africa; and the Asia Pacific Region). Delegates work on behalf of the global membership to reflect the needs of member institutions and elect representation for OCLC’s Board of Trustees. A total of six members of OCLC’s Board of Trustees are elected by Global Council.

In addition to electing new members to the Board, Global Council  also wrapped up a year of council activity around the theme for the year: The Smarter Library. This was the first time all three regions shared a common theme, and it drove our choices for speakers, panels, discussions, and activities. By focusing on a similar set of topics, we were able to share key learnings across all three regional meetings … and what a fantastic year it has been!

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OCLC Wise: Designed around people, driven by data

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It’s difficult to define just one role that public libraries play in the US, as they are incredibly unique depending on the communities they serve. What is certain is that they are always key players in filling community needs, such as access to healthcare information or immigration services. Wonderful examples include programs like The American Place at Hartford Public Library in Connecticut, which helps immigrants not only prepare for citizenship but also adjust to life in the local community. Or the library nurse program at Pima County Public library in Arizona that brings basic healthcare checks to anyone who needs it.

It’s this diversity that makes public libraries special and demonstrates why the roles they play are so critical. So, while each library is unique, they share a common commitment—to put their community at the center of everything they do.

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GDPR: What does it mean for OCLC and your library?

Julie Presas

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Have you heard of the General Data Protection Regulation?

If you’re living in Europe, chances are you have. GDPR imposes a series of changes to the personal data privacy laws in the European Union and will go into effect on 25 May 2018. The new regulation will replace the current Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. It is meant to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe and to give individuals more transparency and control with respect to how their personal data is processed. While GDPR does impose requirements that, in some instances, are more stringent than current EU law, regulators have stated that the new regulation should be viewed as an incremental change for organizations that are already complying with existing data protection laws, noting that the regulation is “an evolution, not a revolution.”

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Looking at interlibrary loan, 2017 edition

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Did you catch all of the 2017 end-of-year book lists? Probably the most noteworthy are The New York Times best sellers lists. Barnes and Noble publishes one, as does Publishers Weekly. Amazon publishes a most purchased books list as well, which gets a lot of attention.

As you know, we at OCLC have a different list—the books that are the most shared, as measured by interlibrary loan requests! Last year, our resource sharing systems handled more than 7 million ILL requests from all over the world.

We’ve been gathering this data for many years and publishing it here for the past two years. It’s always interesting to see what books made the top ten ILL list and what, if any, broader observations we can make. We debuted our ILL “best sellers list” for 2017 last week at the OCLC Resource Sharing Conference with the resource sharing community, who always enjoy guessing which work made the top spot.

Well, in 2017, ILL requests once again were closely aligned with current events—what was taking place in the news and popular culture.* Here are latest themes in interlibrary loan based on our data.

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On Ireland, library data, and humanities research

Brian Lavoie

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St. Patrick’s Day is nearly upon us, and our thoughts turn to Ireland and the Irish …

… and to the new OCLC Research report, An Exploration of the Irish Presence in the Published Record, in which we use library data to identify and explore materials by Irish authors, about Ireland, and/or published in Ireland. In this report, we map out the features of the Irish landscape in WorldCat, including the most popular Irish author, as measured by library holdings (Jonathan Swift); the most popular work by an Irish author (Gulliver’s Travels); and the most translated Irish author (Oscar Wilde). Did you know that Northern Ireland-born Eve Bunting is the most popular Irish author in 29 US states? Or that toddler favorite Guess How Much I Love You is the 13th most popular work by an Irish author (Sam McBratney)?

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