Posts in: October, 2017

From secret student archives to crusty old microfilm: Tales from the international ILL world

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Back in 1988, one of my OCLC colleagues worked at The Ohio State University Law Library as a work-study student. Recently, he told me a story about going deep into the basement to the compact storage units to retrieve an 1870s law book to photocopy some Ohio municipal codes for a library in Japan. He mailed the document to the library the next day using the US Postal Service.

Today, almost 30 years later, the world of international interlibrary loan is alive and well but with fewer trips to the ‘dungeon’ and the post office, thanks to digitization, electronic publications, and advances in scanning technology. These advances, along with the web and the emerging global library data network, are making international borrowing and lending easier and more commonplace.

But it’s the stories behind these international transactions that make them memorable, inspiring, and fun.

As I prepared to attend IFLA’s International Interlending and Document Supply Conference this month to moderate a panel discussion, I sent out a request for international ILL stories from OCLC members. Here is a sampling. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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How OCLC transformed a library … and one student’s life

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Throw down the gauntlet

At the beginning of the 1992–1993 school year, I issued a challenge to teachers, students, administrators, and community members around the Ovid-Elsie Area Schools in Michigan. Our small, rural library, which supported two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school, had recently joined OCLC and for the first time had access to libraries worldwide through WorldCat. Even though our materials budget was tiny, I stood up in the first district staff meeting of the year and promised them all I would get any book that anyone needed for any reason.

The teachers whispered and even snickered. Our library had never been very relevant to them. We weren’t included in their lesson plans, and they rarely sent students to find resources. After a couple weeks, I got my first request: a 17-book bibliography. And that changed everything.

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It’s time to reinvent the collective collection

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This year, we are celebrating the cooperative’s 50th anniversary. In 1967, the Ohio library community changed the way they worked together to share their catalogs. It was truly a reinvention of cataloging, resource sharing and library discovery.

Today, as we begin our next 50 years, we are at another turning point that requires a new, even bolder vision. We are building on WorldCat, now the definitive global library collection, to provide library members, groups and regional and national partners even greater capacity to build, manage, and curate the collective collection.

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Customer Service Week: three opportunities to build, maintain, or break trust

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Trust is emotional, and is built transactionally

Customer Service Week is being celebrated around the world this week, and the theme is “Building Trust.” And while trust is certainly an emotional concept, it isn’t completely immune to training, practice, review, and reward.

How do you measure and improve in a nebulous area like trust? I’d like to go through three opportunities that are typical “trust points” for most service-oriented organizations. In each case, I’ll suggest how this moment can either build, maintain, or break down trust between you and the people you serve.

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