Get inspired for National Library Week with these five quick stories

OCLC

2017-04-10 National Library Week

April 9 through 15 is National Library Week in the United States, an annual observance that has been sponsored by the American Library Association since 1958. Because we’re a global organization, we’d like to take an opportunity to celebrate libraries all around the world. Whether it’s through access to technology, information literacy, diverse collections or opportunities for community engagement, libraries connect people to knowledge and make breakthroughs happen.

We could have written volumes about the great work being done by libraries around the globe. We’ve highlighted a few breakthroughs our members have shared with us and we encourage you to join your colleagues around the world to share your library breakthrough with the hashtag #NationalLibraryWeek.

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OCLC at fifty—your memories, our history, our shared future

Kem Lang

50th-Anniversary-revised

For me, one of the best things about managing the OCLC Library, Archive and Museum is that the history of our organization is tied so closely to the history of libraries and librarianship. Being a corporate archivist is fun for almost any history geek, of course. But it’s special and meaningful for me to play a part in collecting and preserving works that reflect on the people, events and achievements of our profession.

Because OCLC is a cooperative, our collection isn’t just a list of items and materials about what happens inside these walls, but it’s a glimpse into half-a-century of changes and innovations that librarians have lived through and, in many cases, originated. And, as we archivists all know, a look back from time to time can be a valuable tool as we identify paths for the future.

That’s why I think it’s incredibly important that we ask you—the world’s librarians—for your memories as we celebrate OCLC’s 50th anniversary.

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In support of library funding

OCLC

Students in library looking at tablet computer

OCLC is a global library cooperative, composed of more than 16,000 library members from around the world. Our members span library types from public libraries serving the smallest rural towns to the largest research libraries in the world.

The knowledge transfer and exchange fueled by libraries enables many notable experiences: the child learning to read; the scientist expanding an avenue of medical research; an entrepreneur building a viable business plan. The individuals in these examples often gain their initial foothold, inspiration and roadmap in a library. We celebrate the accomplishments and the end result of the knowledge, but the journey to these breakthroughs is often not as visible. Libraries play a key role in these life-altering journeys and ground-breaking discoveries.

The role that libraries play continues to grow, based on the evolving needs of their respective communities. Libraries provide internet services, vital not only to learning but also to finding a job and to accessing social services. Libraries directly impact student outcomes, from pre-K and K–12 to community colleges to large research universities. Libraries maintain important collections, preserving the history of our communities, regions, countries and people.

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With big data, answers drive questions

Andreas Schmidt

2017-03-28-With-Big-Data-Answers-Drive-Questions

Usually, when we search for a solution, we start with a question and then seek out answers. According to Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, one of the plenary speakers at the 2017 OCLC EMEA Regional Council Meeting in Berlin, big data flips that equation on its head.

Tying into the event’s theme, “Libraries at the Crossroads: Resolving Identities,” Viktor explained that big data is all about gaining new perspectives on the world. It is revolutionizing what we see and how we process information. And he explained that with big data, we start with answers—what the data tells us—and then go back to fill in appropriate questions and hypotheses.

As a Professor at Oxford University’s Internet Institute and author of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think, Viktor also explained that every additional data point is an opportunity to boost customer services and find new synergies. He talked about the quantity of big data translating into a new capability to make sense of patterns.

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Build joy into your library’s website

What libraries can learn from eCommerce

I’m passionate about Web analytics. This passion ignited before I came to OCLC as I’ve spent most of my career working on eCommerce teams for brands like American Eagle Outfitters and DSW. eCommerce teams use web analytics to optimize experiences for shoppers to ensure that they can find what they are looking for and ultimately click that purchase button.

Honestly, we often pushed past passion to complete obsession. We used to get our key metrics emailed to us every hour on the hour before one VP requested that the emails stop coming out after midnight so the team could get some sleep. Since I’ve been here at OCLC, I’ve found that a lot of what we do in eCommerce can be leveraged for improving library websites as well.

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Bringing order to the chaos of digital data

digital-chaos

530 million songs. 90 years of high-definition video. 250,000 Libraries of Congress. That’s how much data we produce every day—2.5 exabytes according to Northeastern University. I guess that’s not surprising, given the amount of activity that goes on in social media, websites, email messages and texting.

Much of that data, though, is personal and ephemeral. Videos, photos, tweets and stories that can be passed along and deleted without any thought or care about accuracy or archiving.

But in the scholarly community, a similar and perhaps more significant explosion of digital data is occurring. Here the stakes may be much higher. Without trusted stewardship, data from research will not be effectively collected and preserved for reuse. And when this happens, research innovation and advancement slows significantly.

This is new territory in many ways. Data have been collected and preserved for thousands of years, but never at the volume we see today, nor with some of the deliberate (and in some cases, legally mandated) intentions for reuse.

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Together, we move forward

EMEA Regional Council Meeting

It was great to see everyone in Berlin last month at the EMEA Regional Council meeting. More than 250 guests from 28 countries attended this eighth annual membership meeting, which was held at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT Berlin). The theme was Libraries at the Crossroads: Resolving Identities, and we explored the trends that are shaping the future of libraries through a rich program of 65 presentations led by 67 thought leaders.

Thank you to all who planned and attended this powerful event. It was a great chance to share knowledge around this important theme while getting to know each other better. A special congratulations goes to the Lightning Talk winner Katrin Kropf from the Public Library of Chemnitz, Germany.

We look forward to seeing you next year on 20–21 February in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Three ways to engage your faculty using digital collections

2017-02-28 3 Ways To Engage Faculty

Our members’ libraries each have unique, valuable resources. For the past 15 years, I’ve had the pleasure of discovering many of these rich collections firsthand as part of my work in digital collection management.

One of my favorite collections is the Denison University Herbarium, which contains images of more than 600 plant specimens. A poignant note in the collection description states that the original Herbarium collection was destroyed by fire in 1905 but was restored with donations from professors and naturalists soon after. The digital collection is curated by Andrew C. McCall, Assistant Professor of Biology, and preserves access to these plants for future study and makes them accessible beyond the four walls of the library. It is a great example of engaging faculty using digital collections, preserving physical collections with digitization and bringing hidden collections into view.

My passion is to grow the number and usage of unique digital collections like the Herbarium. Each collection has a “back story” and usually an engaged curator. As each new, unique collection comes online, a piece of our shared knowledge becomes visible to a new generation of learners and scholars.

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Visitors and residents: different roads, different maps

2017-02-21 Visitors and Residents Roads and maps1

“The map is not the territory.”

That phrase is probably the best-known quote of Alfred Korzybski, the famous Polish-American semantic scholar. He was making the seemingly obvious point that the words we use to describe something are not the thing itself. Nor does a description change the thing itself. Why does this matter? Well, the more layers of abstraction we put between ourselves and actual things, the harder it becomes to relate them back to the “nonverbal domain” as he called it. We can fall down a rabbit hole of concepts and constructs that, while interesting, may not be, well…useful.

That’s why, as we’ve spread the word about our “Digital Visitors and Residents” work, I’ve been gratified to see librarians and institutions look at our tools not as clever metaphors or abstractions. Instead, they are using them in a variety of ways to make real, valuable changes in how they interact with their library users and potential users at the point-of-need.

In short, as long as you look up from the map often to take in your surroundings, it can function as a useful guide rather than

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