Local action for national impact: some closing thoughts on “Geek the Library”

Sharon Streams

Geek the Library event

I recently came across an excerpt from John Palfrey’s book, BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, in which he made passing reference to Geek the Library as a “clever online campaign.” Although the shout-out was certainly nice to read, the description gave me pause. The online piece of the campaign was only one small facet of the project. Truly, the vast majority of the activity and the outcomes happened at the grass roots, in nearly 1,800 communities across 48 US states.

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The intelligence trap

Tammi Spayde

2016-03-29 Tammi intelligence trap

Being smart is important. But it’s almost never the most vital quality for success at work. And in the library profession—which emphasizes intelligence even more than most—this focus can lead us to undervalue other essential traits.

Think back to a time in your work life that you remember very fondly. To a successful project or a team you truly enjoyed working with. To a story about your job you love to tell. Really. Take a moment and conjure up that situation, because I’m going to make a prediction:

Your memory has nothing to do with highly developed professional skills or intellect.

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The future of FirstSearch and WorldCat Discovery

Mike Showalter

2016-03-24 Showalter discovery

Member-driven product development

A little more than two years ago, OCLC introduced WorldCat Discovery. The goal was to combine the “best of both worlds” into one discovery service—to deliver a single service that would deliver full discovery of library collections and enable library staff and library users to continue searching the one-of-a-kind WorldCat database.

It was a good plan, and reflected a lot of input from our members at a variety of levels. One of the things that makes OCLC very different is our commitment to member involvement. Not just in terms of tactical, feature-focused feedback, but overall direction and strategy.

Like any plan, however, you often find out more in the execution than you do in the initial development stages.

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The power of participation

Irene Hoffman

2016-03-17 Hoffman participation

I just got back from the OCLC EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Regional Council meeting in Madrid, Spain. It was a great conference with more than 300 attendees from 31 countries. The theme of the event was “The Selfie Generation,” and you can see a ton of fun selfies and other pictures that our members, staff and guests took throughout the week.

At this meeting, OCLC members connected with each other and learned how library users’ needs and expectations are changing. We also had a chance to discuss OCLC services and research work and share what’s going on in members’ libraries and within their communities. This type of engagement stimulates lots of new ideas, encourages future-thinking and allows us to explore solutions together.

At OCLC Regional Council meetings like these, we also get to talk about something that’s unique to OCLC: member representation and voting—the power that OCLC members have to shape the future of the world’s largest library cooperative.

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#LibrariesInLife: The Convenience Imperative

Smartphone users

Technology has turned learning outside in

We used to bring all our learning, content and media resources to various “watering holes” where folks would gather to consume it. Classrooms, libraries, newspapers, magazines, TV networks, bookstores and record stores. Why? Because it was the fastest way to distribute a wide variety of materials. It wasn’t wrong. It made sense. But it also left us with embedded cultural and institutional ideas and biases about what learning is, who is involved in our workflows, what counts as “good enough” and even why we learn.

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Moving out in front

Mary Sauer-Games

2016-02-2 moving out in front

We’re at a tipping point

I frequently get to talk to librarians from very different types and sizes of libraries. When I ask about their concerns, there is one refrain I hear consistently: “We’re being asked to do more with less.” When we dig into that sentiment a bit deeper, I usually find that:

  • MORE = More outreach, more hands-on service, more training, more embedded assets, more learning guides, more interaction, more proactive recommendations.
  • LESS = Less money, less staffing, less space, less time.

Doing new things with fewer resources requires a paradigm shift. Why? Well, doing the same things with fewer resources can sometimes be managed through quantitative measures; trimming services, sharing costs, cutting back along the margins. But if you’re being asked to change both your input (funding) and output (services), that’s essentially a recipe for an entirely new way of thinking about how your organization needs to work.

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Four interlibrary loan trends to watch in 2016

Christa Starck

Top ILL titles for 2015

At least once a year, we query the WorldShare ILL database and see how the trends in interlibrary loan are developing. We count titles a little differently than other lists. Rather than splitting into fiction/nonfiction we look at loan requests vs. copy requests (loans of an entire book vs. a request to copy a single article or part of a larger work). The list of top copy requests is, as you might expect, heavily weighted toward the medical, psychological and scientific realms. It’s the loan requests that are more interesting.

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The library of one

Chip Nilges

2016-02-06 Chip library of one

What does it mean to be a “library user” today? I think we can all agree it’s a question that is less well-defined than in the past. Which is why OCLC Research points out the necessity of “meeting library users at the point of need.” As Lorcan Dempsey puts it in his book, The Network Reshapes the Library, “We are used to thinking about the user in the library environment … a major part of our challenge moving forward is thinking about the library in the user environment.”

I couldn’t agree more. And if the definition of “library user” is fragmented, we need to think in terms of “what people use” as opposed to “what the library traditionally does.” Which leads me to three questions:

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Learning isn’t learning until you use it

Sharon Streams

2016-02-05 Sharon learning

The learning field is complex, thorny and ever-shifting. Decades – centuries – of intense research, policy, systems, and debate have tried to answer the question, “What is the best way to learn?” and its corollary, “What is the best way to teach?” New theories and related initiatives crop up every few years, each arriving with a bloom of new terminology intended to enlighten but destined to confuse.

This topic excites me because my WebJunction team and I think about learning a lot as we work to offer meaningful learning opportunities for library staff. With that background, I offer one word that I believe is absolutely essential to effective teaching and learning: intention.

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