Three cures for the “Humdrum ILL Blues”

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A few years ago, two colleagues and I co-led the popular workshop, “Keep the ILL Motivational Fires Burning!” at the Midwest ILL Conference. The point was to openly acknowledge that—like many jobs—resource sharing librarianship can become routine and draining. We tried to answer the question: how can you do a job with many necessary, detailed, repetitious job functions while still maintaining energy, enthusiasm, and drive?

While everyone’s answer is going to be slightly different, I think we uncovered a few ways that might help you maintain your LOVE for a job that many of us got into in the first place because of a passion for helping library users.

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Progress and patience: Increasing female participation in technical conferences

Karen Coombs

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The Code4Lib Conference is an informal group of library technologists that attracts international participation. While it’s an awesome learning and professional community, it also has had the same gender diversity challenges and opportunities as many other technology events and groups. When the Code4Lib Conference first started in 2006, I was one of five women out of 80 attendees, and of the 17 presenters that year, only one was female.

Now the nearly 450 attendees at the event are much more equally divided by gender. Around 40% of our community identifies as female, and at the 2017 conference, 43% of the speakers were female.

I’m proud of the improvements we’ve made, and I think if we continue to focus on a few key activities, we’ll see even more progress.

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Four ways your library can use RIM to advance your institution

Rebecca Bryant, Ph.D.

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Familiar roles, new opportunities

Research Information Management—RIM—is the aggregation, curation, and utilization of information about research. These activities already intersect with many aspects of your library’s services. But, as OCLC’s Lorcan Dempsey wrote in a 2014 blog post on the subject, only recently have we been treating RIM:

[As] a new service category … the integrated management of information about the research life cycle, and about the entities which are party to it.

As such, OCLC has been researching and writing about the ways that libraries are becoming leaders in this important trend. Our position paper, Research Information Management: Defining RIM and the Library’s Role, is a good place to start if you want the “big picture” about RIM and libraries.

The publication helps libraries and other institutional stakeholders better understand how institutions are adopting research information management practices, driven by many different uses, such as support for expertise in discovery, open access policies and compliance, faculty activity reporting workflows, and research assessment activities. In it we identify four major ways in which libraries can add value to this complex ecosystem:

  • Publications and scholarship expertise
  • Discoverability, access, and reputational support
  • Stewardship of the institutional record
  • Training and support

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Dr. Carla D. Hayden on the need for constant change in libraries

Skip Prichard

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, for our inaugural meeting of the Americas Regional Council. Nearly 200 attendees from 120 institutions and 36 US states came together to discuss technology trends in libraries.

It seems that everything is changing at a rapid clip. Even our vacuums are texting us and our fitness regimens have become virtual. Not a day goes by when we don’t read about developments that will rock our world—from flying cars to containers that sense they’re nearing empty and order a refill.

Our conference attendees discussed the impact of these changes in society and specifically on libraries. Dr. Carla D. Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress for the United States, opened our conference with an inspiring keynote. If you know Dr. Hayden, you know that I was in the unfortunate situation of having to follow her on the stage.

It was after our presentations that we had a chance to speak about the impact of change on our organizations.

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Happy 350th birthday, Jonathan Swift!

Brian Lavoie

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Writing about the Irish satirist Jonathan Swift, George Orwell observes:

“In a political and moral sense I am against him, so far as I understand him. Yet curiously enough he is one of the writers I admire with least reserve, and Gulliver’s Travels, in particular, is a book which it seems impossible for me to grow tired of… If I had to make a list of six books which were to be preserved when all others were destroyed, I would certainly put Gulliver’s Travels among them.” 1

On this, the occasion of Jonathan Swift’s 350th birthday, we share Orwell’s enthusiasm for Swift and his work by adding our own library-style tribute: Swift is the most popular Irish-born author, and Gulliver’s Travels the most popular work by an Irish author, in library collections today.

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The three types of library professionals who absolutely must read the new ACRL/OCLC Academic Library Impact report

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It’s really not for everyone

Clickbait headline aside, there really isn’t a compelling reason for some library workers to read the full text of the recently published Academic Library Impact: Improving Practice and Essential Areas to Research report from ACRL and OCLC.

For most librarians and educators, the eight-page introduction is all you need. It’s got a quick overview of six priority areas that we suggest as a guide for developing academic services that focus on student success. For each, there’s a short bullet list of actions and questions we’d like to explore further. That’s it. A nice, easy primer for most librarians.

But if you are a library administrator, do marketing for your library, or are directly involved in educational outcomes … sorry. You need to make time for all 73 pages.

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Getting smarter, together

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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.

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Guess what topic is tops on our blog this year?

Katie Birch

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Resource sharing is the heart of librarianship. And the heart of OCLC. Whether it’s metadata, workflows, infrastructure, or library materials, sharing is embedded deep in a librarian’s psyche and powered by our technology platform.

It’s no surprise, then, that resource sharing is one of the topics on our blog that always gets the most traffic—this year and last year. This year, our posts on Tipasa, interlibrary loan trends, and shared print collections are among the most popular based on views and visits. Last year, it was interlibrary loan trends as well, along with a contest to name our new ILL management system.

Clearly, after 50 years of the cooperative, the community continues to reinvent resource sharing—making it even easier for more types of libraries and groups to support one another. I invite you to enjoy these posts once again. And to keep on caring about resource sharing.

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From secret student archives to crusty old microfilm: Tales from the international ILL world

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Back in 1988, one of my OCLC colleagues worked at The Ohio State University Law Library as a work-study student. Recently, he told me a story about going deep into the basement to the compact storage units to retrieve an 1870s law book to photocopy some Ohio municipal codes for a library in Japan. He mailed the document to the library the next day using the US Postal Service.

Today, almost 30 years later, the world of international interlibrary loan is alive and well but with fewer trips to the ‘dungeon’ and the post office, thanks to digitization, electronic publications, and advances in scanning technology. These advances, along with the web and the emerging global library data network, are making international borrowing and lending easier and more commonplace.

But it’s the stories behind these international transactions that make them memorable, inspiring, and fun.

As I prepared to attend IFLA’s International Interlending and Document Supply Conference this month to moderate a panel discussion, I sent out a request for international ILL stories from OCLC members. Here is a sampling. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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How OCLC transformed a library … and one student’s life

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Throw down the gauntlet

At the beginning of the 1992–1993 school year, I issued a challenge to teachers, students, administrators, and community members around the Ovid-Elsie Area Schools in Michigan. Our small, rural library, which supported two elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school, had recently joined OCLC and for the first time had access to libraries worldwide through WorldCat. Even though our materials budget was tiny, I stood up in the first district staff meeting of the year and promised them all I would get any book that anyone needed for any reason.

The teachers whispered and even snickered. Our library had never been very relevant to them. We weren’t included in their lesson plans, and they rarely sent students to find resources. After a couple weeks, I got my first request: a 17-book bibliography. And that changed everything.

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