Getting a million dollar digital collection grant in six easy steps

Taylor Surface

million-dollar-grant

Many of the libraries I’ve worked with on local digitization efforts start with great ideas about a big collection they could develop…if only they had enough money. Maybe there’s a local trove of unique documents that are historically important. Or thousands of photos recovered from a private collection after a disaster. No matter the source, imaginations run high and big, lofty goals are set. A hopeful dollar figure is calculated and the quest for a grant begins…only to end in disappointment.

Why? The goal is good, the materials are fantastic, the benefit to the community is apparent. In my experience, the search for the “Million Dollar Grant” often fails because it doesn’t follow these six important steps:

  • Step 1: Secure a $1,000 grant.
  • Step 2: Secure a $5,000 grant.
  • Step 3: Secure a $10,000 grant…

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Ranganathan on shyness: Get over it!

Saskia Leferink

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Advice from the father of library science

In 1931, S.R. Ranganathan, a mathematician and librarian who is widely regarded as a founder of modern library science, published his seminal work, The Five Laws of Library Science. His five principles about managing the library get most of the publicity, but tucked away on page 65 is a gem of a quote sometimes overlooked but extremely important in our fast-changing world.

“If you want to be a reference librarian, you must learn to overcome not only your shyness but also the shyness of others.”

Ranganathan used this quote to describe behavioral change librarians needed to make in his day, when they were transitioning to serving readers from preserving books. No longer were readers considered a nuisance—they became the focus of the library. Librarians had to lose their shyness and come out from behind the desk to serve users, as well as overcome any reader shyness.

As we in the library community wrestle with change management, Ranganathan’s words ring as clearly today as they did 85 years ago. You can’t be shy when tackling change. Change requires a boldness that leaves reticence behind in order to embrace something new.

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The power of library content to connect us…personally

Bonnie Allen

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As librarians, we digitize, collect, archive and promote content collections for many different reasons. Our digital collection management efforts often revolve around the idea of preserving materials for historic and scholarly purposes. That’s obviously important, and librarians have always played a major role in such programs. But sometimes we discover far more personal connections to these materials.

While I was working on the Montana Memory Project from 2009–2012, it made perfect sense that some of the students we sent to the National Archives would be Native Americans, as the materials they were digitizing were from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Local history being preserved by local students for the use of historians is often a part of these programs. What we were not expecting, however, was that some of our students would find materials that involved their own direct ancestors.

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A cooperative approach to naming: help name our new ILL service

Katie Birch

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Names are important. And naming things can be a lot of fun. Names conjure up feelings and emotions and even expectations. Here at OCLC we’re excited about a new ILL product that we’re developing with the help of the OCLC resource sharing community. And we want a name that captures the energy and teamwork that you, our members, bring to the cooperative.

As a unique membership cooperative, OCLC relies on your input for all kinds of things. Members provide feedback on product development, plans, road maps and features—as is the case for this new service. We also solicit ideas for events and programs. Our research depends on feedback from many libraries all over the world. And so we thought, let’s ask the community: what do YOU think we should name the product?

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“We are stronger when we can solve problems collaboratively.”

Helene Blowers

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As Community Program Manager for the OCLC Community Center, I have many conversations with our members that fall under a few simple categories. Most often we talk about insights and ideas that they have to increase collaboration around OCLC technology and services. But occasionally our conversations turn to talking about their organizations’ goals or their own personal goals for professional growth. Regardless of the conversation, I’ve learned that one of the most important things I can do is get out of the way and let other members lead the discussion, providing their own perspective and insight.

That final step is an important one. We’re always on the lookout for ways to create a culture of support and collaboration, which is why I’m so excited about the growth of the OCLC Online Community Center over the past year. A growth that’s measured entirely in member-to-member engagement.

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A library collection of mysteries, murder and mayhem

Mary Sauer-Games

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This Halloween, let’s take a peek into the Douglas County Historic Research Center (DCHRC) and try to uncover the mysterious connection between these seemingly unrelated yet terrifying clues:

  • A high-profile murder and kidnapping attempt in 1960
  • The burning down of a county courthouse in 1978 during a jail break
  • The near disappearance of local sheriff’s records in 2000
  • A list of every grave marker in town
  • Attics with mysterious, forgotten books

The common thread?

[Cue spooky music] Digital content management!!!

[Cue maniacal laughter]

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Are you too comfortable in your culture?

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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

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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

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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 bordasd@oclc.org.

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Happy Customer Service Week: Wow Moments!

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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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