The New Model Library. Welcome home.

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Imagine heading out for a well-earned, two-week vacation. To a place you love to visit and know well. When you get there? It’s all as you remembered. And you packed perfectly. As a frequent tourist, you know what you can buy if you need and what the hotel shop has and where you can go for a good …

Then, abruptly, you’re told—you can’t go home. You’re no longer a visitor. You are now a resident. This place where you were so comfortable and relaxed as a tourist? You have to live and work here now.

For many students, professors, teachers, and researchers forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to work at home full-time, all the time, that’s what has happened.

They went from being skilled digital visitors to unwilling digital residents.

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The OCLC Community Center at five years: Your “extra colleague”

Susan Chaney

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Five years ago, when we started the OCLC Community Center, if you’d told me that working online with my colleagues would become the most welcome, interpersonal, almost extroverted respite from my daily routine, I would have thought that was a very … odd statement. All of us have, I assume, wonderful colleagues in our libraries and offices. We have lunches and meetings and seminars and stand-up sessions and coffee breaks, and we have… .

Or, should I say we had.

For the last few months, since many of us have been working from home because of COVID-19, the chance to work together online virtually using tools like the OCLC Community Center has cemented a belief that I held before—that the relationships and connections we make online are just as strong and important as those we make “in real life.”

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Supporting racial equity—in individual steps toward common goals

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Earlier this month, I wrote about the killing of George Floyd and about the necessity for a response. While that post itself was one kind of a response, I know that hundreds of millions of other people, in communities all over the world, are responding in many other ways, too. It’s an extraordinary outpouring. It is a moment and a movement unlike any other in my lifetime.

I also said that an event such as this requires time to reflect, to understand, and to learn from each other. Something this important is worthy of our resources, and one of those resources is time. For that reason, OCLC dedicated Friday, 5 June 2020, for staff to take the day off and reflect, engage, be active, and support the African American community in a way that is in line with our values.

I’d like to share with you some of the very personal ways that OCLC team members are engaging.

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The rapid pace of change in research university libraries: An interview with Keith Webster

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Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Keith Webster, Dean of University Libraries and Director of Emerging and Integrative Media Initiatives at Carnegie Mellon University. We discussed how academic libraries have changed in the last two decades, reflecting on the growth of digital content and the rapidly evolving scholarly record. I also asked Keith to imagine the research library of the future and to share where his own library is heading in the near term, with investments in multi-purpose repositories, RIM systems, and increasing support for research analytics and institutional reputation management.

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We must remember George Floyd. And we must do more.

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We sometimes refer to libraries, archives and museums as “memory institutions.” That’s not a bad description. But it’s not complete. Because memory implies something that is in the past. Something that isn’t active. And so much of what happens in the work we do for our communities happens now, today, this very minute.

What is happening now requires a response. We must speak out against racism and injustice.

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Library staff learning surges on WebJunction amid COVID-19 closures

Sharon Streams

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As libraries have closed their physical spaces and adapted services to remote work, we’ve seen library staff spend more time than ever on professional development and online learning. In a poll conducted during the recent OCLC virtual town hall, 81% of attendees reported that they have engaged in more professional development since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a free resource open to all, WebJunction has long been “the learning place for libraries.” But the increase that we’ve seen in time spent learning on webjunction.org between March and April 2020 has been, put simply, extraordinary.

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Always together, even when we’re apart

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Do you remember—so, so long ago, back in January—when the idea of working from home for a couple of days seemed like a nice option? An opportunity to catch up on the buried emails, check off a few paperwork “to dos” from your list, or spend some focused time on a pet project.

Now? Even though I’m starting to get used to this “new normal,” I tell you this: once it’s safe to return to work, I may live in my library for a week.

Because while we’ve been doing an amazing job of staying in touch through our web meetings, email, chat, and texts, it’s just not the same. I miss real interactions with people. I miss the social interactions that make our libraries real communities.

It’s the same people I miss so much who are making isolation not just bearable, but truly remarkable. Library colleagues are approaching this crisis with the same mix of pragmatism and optimism that I’ve encountered throughout my years as a librarian. Nowhere was this more evident than in our virtual OCLC Global Council meeting last month.

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We may be apart, but we’re in this together

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I’m pretty sure that we can all agree that life and work don’t feel “normal” right now. Even as we unite as communities to “flatten the curve” and adopt social distancing routines, it’s hard for us to be apart from colleagues, friends, and our community. But there’s solace in knowing that our communities are protected by our combined effort and that we’re all in this together. I hope everyone reading this is healthy and safe.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had so many conversations with library colleagues that have amazed me. Even though the way that we’re supporting our communities may have radically changed, our conversations have felt remarkably “normal” in that they all have the same balance of professional responsibility and personal good humor that I’ve come to rely on, time and again, during my career.

You are all amazing. And your libraries do amazing things, which is why we put the OCLC Community Engagement Award out there—to hear more about them and spread the word. And it’s why we’re extending the nominating deadline from April 30 to May 31.

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