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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What is “container collapse” and why should librarians and teachers care?

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In 2004, OCLC published Information Format Trends: Content, Not Containers. In the context of this study, “container” meant physical media:

More than ever, content consumers are “format agnostic” in that they do not care much what sort of container—such as a book, journal, blog, or a Web page—the content comes from… For libraries and content sellers, this means the processes of acquisition, organization, and delivery of content need to change to accommodate the expectations of our communities.

In today’s smartphone world, when all of our media can be scrunched down into one device, we face what the research team calls container collapse (#containercollapse). The visual context and cues that print containers provide used to help individuals identify a document’s origins and measure its value. These cues are now obscured or more difficult to discern. In digital format, a document is decanted from its original container and must be carefully examined to determine the journey it took to reach the individual. As knowledge professionals, we care deeply about the origin and authority of the content our users and communities consume.

And guess what? Students care, too!

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Sometimes, to change anything … you have to change everything

Greta Southard

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Change management is never easy, that’s why it’s often tackled in bite-size chunks. To be successful, it has to be intentional and collaborative. And for a public library, defining change can’t just depend on the director’s vision. It has to belong to the entire organization and be driven by the needs of the community.

We recently wrapped up the challenging—but energizing—task of developing a detailed strategic plan. This was a first step in changing the way we do business. We’ll still do many of the same things we’ve always done, but our perspective has shifted to place the customer firmly in the center of everything we do.

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Three things librarians wanting to engage with Wikipedia should think about first

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Wikipedia is big. Maybe not googol big, but 5.4+ million articles in English is up there. The platform is the fifth-most accessed website globally, and billions of edits have been saved since the online encyclopedia launched in 2001.

Though most librarians have read Wikipedia articles and work with patrons who use it regularly, few librarians actually edit Wikipedia. There are good reasons libraries need Wikipedia, and vice versa. So how could you get started with Wikipedia at your library?

One way to get a handle on something big is to start small. That’s what I’ve been learning from public library staff in my role as the OCLC Wikipedian-in-Residence for the past 16 months, which included interviewing public library staff and teaching a nine-week online training program.

Here are three surprisingly simple things about Wikipedia that public library staff involved with the Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together project say their peers and colleagues should know.

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Libraries and RDM: Three decisions, three components, three realities

Brian Lavoie

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New data mandates, open science advocacy, and replication of research results have focused attention on data management practices during the research process. This, in turn, has led to the development of services, infrastructure, and other resources to support Research Data Management (RDM) needs at research universities.

But how are research universities addressing the challenge of managing research data throughout the research life cycle?

The Realities of Research Data Management is a four-part series from OCLC Research that looks at the context, influences, and choices that research universities face in acquiring RDM capacity. We launched this project to pull back the curtain a bit on how universities work through the process of acquiring RDM capacity. Our findings are derived from detailed case studies of four research universities:

  • University of Edinburgh (UK)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (US)
  • Monash University (Australia)
  • Wageningen University & Research (Netherlands)

Our focus is on three major decision points that universities face in acquiring RDM capacity.

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Three reasons Wikipedia needs libraries, and vice-versa

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We have a pretty good idea of what it means to be a librarian or library worker. We know what the values, talents, and goals are for many in our profession. On the other hand, what does it mean to call yourself a “Wikipedian?” Is it just an interest? Or do you need to reach certain milestones? If we’re going to examine the intersection of both institutions, it would help to know.

In the broadest sense, someone is a Wikipedian if they contribute. The more you contribute, the better, of course. But even adding a few citations or making one important correction qualifies you. And that openness, that ideal of collaborative creation and curation is what, I think, really makes these two communities natural allies.

Wikipedians and librarians share similar passions and purposes. Working together, we create a better and stronger Wikipedia with more visibility for library resources. And there are three ways that our communities reflect each other in the work we do.

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Making a smarter library…and a smarter cooperative

Helene Blowers

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Late last month, the OCLC FY18 Global Council meeting was held in Dublin, Ohio, USA. Global Council is comprised of 48 member-elected delegates, each representing one of three regions (the Americas; Europe, Middle East, and Africa; and the Asia Pacific Region). Delegates work on behalf of the global membership to reflect the needs of member institutions and elect representation for OCLC’s Board of Trustees. A total of six members of OCLC’s Board of Trustees are elected by Global Council.

In addition to electing new members to the Board, Global Council  also wrapped up a year of council activity around the theme for the year: The Smarter Library. This was the first time all three regions shared a common theme, and it drove our choices for speakers, panels, discussions, and activities. By focusing on a similar set of topics, we were able to share key learnings across all three regional meetings … and what a fantastic year it has been!

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