It was great to see everyone in Baltimore at the inaugural meeting of the Americas Regional Council. It was a phenomenal experience—from the inspiring keynote speakers to many in-depth, informative breakout sessions.
Nearly 200 attendees from 120 institutions, 36 US states, and four countries joined this membership meeting where the theme was, “The Smarter Library.” We shared ideas, questions, and insights about what it takes to become smarter and innovate continuously around the needs of the communities we serve.
Our keynote speakers, Dr. Carla D. Hayden, Librarian of Congress; Skip Prichard, President and CEO of OCLC; and Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, inspired us all with their keen insights on how libraries can continue their track record of innovation in pursuit of new and better ways to support their communities and better serve their users.
Members themselves provided most of the breakout content—a rich program of more than 60 leading speakers and panelists from within and outside the library community. These breakout sessions, where we came together in small groups to brainstorm and reflect, were a valuable part of the two-day meeting. Through our use of a “smarter conference” app, Scavify, we heard what attendees will be taking home to make their libraries smarter. Here is a sampling:
- Reach out to communities we serve. They are the experts and it’s through relationships and conversations that we become smarter at meeting their needs. Communities must be consulted and incorporated into every step of the innovation process so they have a sense of ownership.
- Identify bits of data through surveys, and then dig deeper.
- Learning is social. Space should be open and inviting and flexible to meet the needs of different audiences.
- Build programs that look outside of the library to inspire conversations and thinking by highlighting faculty research and student learning—not just collections.
Those are just a few of the practical ideas shared. For more inspiration, the presentation materials from the event are available here, and we encourage you to review and share them with colleagues who were unable to attend this year’s conference. Conference attendees shared a lot of thoughts (and some great pictures!) on OCLC’s Twitter and Instagram accounts, too. We encourage you to continue to share the memories via your own social media accounts using #OCLCARC17.
Take a look at the ARC17 highlight video below, which will give you a quick glimpse into the camaraderie and excitement of the meeting.
Thank you to all who planned and attended this powerful event. The rooms were filled with great energy, interesting conversations, and new connections. We all came away with new ideas and a new spirit to innovate, which will keep our libraries relevant and fresh.
We look forward to seeing you next year in Chicago, Illinois, where we will continue to advance smarter libraries together.