Posts in: March, 2017

With big data, answers drive questions

Andreas Schmidt

2017-03-28-With-Big-Data-Answers-Drive-Questions

Usually, when we search for a solution, we start with a question and then seek out answers. According to Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, one of the plenary speakers at the 2017 OCLC EMEA Regional Council Meeting in Berlin, big data flips that equation on its head.

Tying into the event’s theme, “Libraries at the Crossroads: Resolving Identities,” Viktor explained that big data is all about gaining new perspectives on the world. It is revolutionizing what we see and how we process information. And he explained that with big data, we start with answers—what the data tells us—and then go back to fill in appropriate questions and hypotheses.

As a Professor at Oxford University’s Internet Institute and author of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think, Viktor also explained that every additional data point is an opportunity to boost customer services and find new synergies. He talked about the quantity of big data translating into a new capability to make sense of patterns.

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Build joy into your library’s website

What libraries can learn from eCommerce

I’m passionate about Web analytics. This passion ignited before I came to OCLC as I’ve spent most of my career working on eCommerce teams for brands like American Eagle Outfitters and DSW. eCommerce teams use web analytics to optimize experiences for shoppers to ensure that they can find what they are looking for and ultimately click that purchase button.

Honestly, we often pushed past passion to complete obsession. We used to get our key metrics emailed to us every hour on the hour before one VP requested that the emails stop coming out after midnight so the team could get some sleep. Since I’ve been here at OCLC, I’ve found that a lot of what we do in eCommerce can be leveraged for improving library websites as well.

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Bringing order to the chaos of digital data

digital-chaos

530 million songs. 90 years of high-definition video. 250,000 Libraries of Congress. That’s how much data we produce every day—2.5 exabytes according to Northeastern University. I guess that’s not surprising, given the amount of activity that goes on in social media, websites, email messages and texting.

Much of that data, though, is personal and ephemeral. Videos, photos, tweets and stories that can be passed along and deleted without any thought or care about accuracy or archiving.

But in the scholarly community, a similar and perhaps more significant explosion of digital data is occurring. Here the stakes may be much higher. Without trusted stewardship, data from research will not be effectively collected and preserved for reuse. And when this happens, research innovation and advancement slows significantly.

This is new territory in many ways. Data have been collected and preserved for thousands of years, but never at the volume we see today, nor with some of the deliberate (and in some cases, legally mandated) intentions for reuse.

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Together, we move forward

EMEA Regional Council Meeting

It was great to see everyone in Berlin last month at the EMEA Regional Council meeting. More than 250 guests from 28 countries attended this eighth annual membership meeting, which was held at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT Berlin). The theme was Libraries at the Crossroads: Resolving Identities, and we explored the trends that are shaping the future of libraries through a rich program of 65 presentations led by 67 thought leaders.

Thank you to all who planned and attended this powerful event. It was a great chance to share knowledge around this important theme while getting to know each other better. A special congratulations goes to the Lightning Talk winner Katrin Kropf from the Public Library of Chemnitz, Germany.

We look forward to seeing you next year on 20–21 February in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Three ways to engage your faculty using digital collections

2017-02-28 3 Ways To Engage Faculty

Our members’ libraries each have unique, valuable resources. For the past 15 years, I’ve had the pleasure of discovering many of these rich collections firsthand as part of my work in digital collection management.

One of my favorite collections is the Denison University Herbarium, which contains images of more than 600 plant specimens. A poignant note in the collection description states that the original Herbarium collection was destroyed by fire in 1905 but was restored with donations from professors and naturalists soon after. The digital collection is curated by Andrew C. McCall, Assistant Professor of Biology, and preserves access to these plants for future study and makes them accessible beyond the four walls of the library. It is a great example of engaging faculty using digital collections, preserving physical collections with digitization and bringing hidden collections into view.

My passion is to grow the number and usage of unique digital collections like the Herbarium. Each collection has a “back story” and usually an engaged curator. As each new, unique collection comes online, a piece of our shared knowledge becomes visible to a new generation of learners and scholars.

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