Meet your guide for an Amazon journey: a librarian

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This last July, Forbes published an essay that suggested Amazon stores could replace libraries. The piece was pulled down within a couple days, after nearly 8,000 comments on Twitter and a great many response pieces suggesting that this wasn’t even a bad argument, buttwaddle.” These responses emphasized the role that libraries play in providing services (beyond just books) to people who otherwise might not have access to them.

Some recent library user research we conducted in partnership with the Worthington Libraries in Ohio suggests that these criticisms of the Forbes piece don’t go far enough. Not only isn’t Amazon a replacement for libraries, but our statistical models indicate that library use supports commercial book sales as well as other social and retail activities.

In short: if you want to look for more customers for your online book business, look in libraries.

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Brain food in just an hour

Rachel Frick

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My work with the OCLC Research Library Partnership is rewarding in so many ways. One of them is the continual opportunity to meet fascinating people who do really important work. It creates new learning opportunities for me, and it’s fun to see where some of our pathways intersect.

Like most library professionals, I like to share. Fortunately, I can connect the experts I meet to the OCLC community through our Distinguished Seminar Series. Since 1978, OCLC has hosted dozens of guest speakers who have shared their knowledge and experience on a vast range of topics, initiatives, and movements.

If you can spare an hour once or twice a year, I’d like to invite you to meet with us here in the auditorium at OCLC’s headquarters. You can come in person or join us online for a livestream of an event. I promise that our guests will inform, inspire, and probably even entertain you.

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Think like a “game changer”

Hubert Krekels

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I often remember Skip Prichard quoting Jack Welch at our Edinburgh, Scotland, EMEA Regional Council meeting: “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” As a true librarian and forward thinker, I fully recognize we are in the middle of this, but I prefer to complete the quote this way: “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change in your library … change the game!”

In the late 1940s, The Lego Group began producing the building bricks, which we all know so well. For decades, they made popular kits that were described by many, all around the world, as one of the best toys in history. However, as children’s play preferences changed, Lego’s economic fortunes declined.

How do you improve a product that has been a global icon for generations? Many small, incremental improvements may help. But at some point, you may need to make a major adjustment and start thinking like a game changer.

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Invite your community to shape smart spaces

Betha Gutsche

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When 15 small and rural libraries joined the Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces project, they signed on for a journey toward transforming their physical spaces and library services. Their exploration was guided by principles of placemaking, design thinking, and active learning. Along the way, they connected with their communities in refreshing new ways that catalyzed relationships and opened up possibilities.

Transformation is a big, ambitious word, charged with expectation of profound change. It might seem like an oversized challenge for libraries that are defined by small: small town, small building, small budget. But these 15 intrepid libraries, serving populations of 560 to 16,000 people, discovered the key to unlocking true transformation: meaningful connection with the community.

Rather than a more familiar positioning of “the library as the heart of the community,” each sought to put their community at the heart of the library.

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A fresh look at public library marketing

Jenny Johnson

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I’ve always been impressed by the incredible creativity and inventiveness public library staff show as they evolve to meet the needs of their local communities. Having spent my career in marketing, more than half working with libraries, I understand the challenges they face in raising awareness of those changes among library users and funders.

A new OCLC report provides a current overview of US public libraries’ approach to marketing and communications. Some of the results are not surprising—like the fact that libraries do a lot of marketing with little money and staff. And as is often the case, some findings simply raised more questions, which led us to talk to some of the public library marketers we know to gain additional perspective.

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Rust never sleeps—not for rockers, not for libraries

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In 1979, Neil Young—one of my favorite artists—released the album Rust Never Sleeps. It represented a conscious recognition that his music had to evolve to appeal to the changing tastes of a new generation. It’s a message I took to heart then, and it continues to impact me today in my work with libraries.

How can libraries stay relevant? By remembering that rust never sleeps. And that the treatment for library rust can be found in one word: assessment.

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Keep a “customer first” focus to meet the challenges of e-resource management

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If you’re like me, one of your biggest travel fears is not having something to read while on the road, in the sky, etc. The difference between my being irritable versus relaxed after a two-hour layover can come down to whether I have something good to read during the wait.

About five years ago, though, I noticed a change in my travel reading routine. I was browsing in an airport bookstore and found a fun novel that was, frankly, too thick to fit into my already overstuffed laptop case. So, I stepped out of the store, found it on Amazon on my smartphone, and bought the e-book. On the way home, however, I found a slim nonfiction title that I didn’t just want to read, but share with a colleague. So, I bought the hardcover (and wedged it in there somehow).

The advertising guru Roy H. Williams famously said, “The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.” What my airport reading adventure points out is this: when it comes to print versus electronic resources, expectations have become pretty challenging.

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Four tips for building a successful digital time capsule

Curt Witcher

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You’ve probably heard of time capsules, those collections of memorabilia—letters, photos, coins, newspapers, etc.—that document a place, an organization, an event, or a family. These everyday artifacts are sealed off, buried, and set aside for later generations to open. According to history.com, tens of thousands of these are scattered around the world since the practice first caught on in the 19th and 20th centuries. The objective of time capsules is to help future archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians discover a little bit about the people of the time.

Well, time capsules have moved into the digital age. And many libraries are taking the lead in bringing their communities together to build digital community albums and time capsules with audio, video, and image files. One of those libraries is my library, the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA.

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2018 community award recipients: cooperative work, individual achievement

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We accomplish great things together as OCLC—more than 16,000 members strong around the world. The cooperative we have built is powered by the skill and passion of many individual librarians.

OCLC supports programs that recognize innovation and creativity in the global library community. Each year, we honor librarians who excel in their profession and advance librarianship. It was my honor to recognize six community leaders and their noteworthy accomplishments at the OCLC President’s Luncheon at ALA Annual in New Orleans last week.

Please join me in congratulating and thanking them for all they have contributed to our community.

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