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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OCLC Wise: Designed around people, driven by data

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It’s difficult to define just one role that public libraries play in the US, as they are incredibly unique depending on the communities they serve. What is certain is that they are always key players in filling community needs, such as access to healthcare information or immigration services. Wonderful examples include programs like The American Place at Hartford Public Library in Connecticut, which helps immigrants not only prepare for citizenship but also adjust to life in the local community. Or the library nurse program at Pima County Public library in Arizona that brings basic healthcare checks to anyone who needs it.

It’s this diversity that makes public libraries special and demonstrates why the roles they play are so critical. So, while each library is unique, they share a common commitment—to put their community at the center of everything they do.

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GDPR: What does it mean for OCLC and your library?

Julie Presas

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Have you heard of the General Data Protection Regulation?

If you’re living in Europe, chances are you have. GDPR imposes a series of changes to the personal data privacy laws in the European Union and will go into effect on 25 May 2018. The new regulation will replace the current Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. It is meant to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe and to give individuals more transparency and control with respect to how their personal data is processed. While GDPR does impose requirements that, in some instances, are more stringent than current EU law, regulators have stated that the new regulation should be viewed as an incremental change for organizations that are already complying with existing data protection laws, noting that the regulation is “an evolution, not a revolution.”

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Looking at interlibrary loan, 2017 edition

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Did you catch all of the 2017 end-of-year book lists? Probably the most noteworthy are The New York Times best sellers lists. Barnes and Noble publishes one, as does Publishers Weekly. Amazon publishes a most purchased books list as well, which gets a lot of attention.

As you know, we at OCLC have a different list—the books that are the most shared, as measured by interlibrary loan requests! Last year, our resource sharing systems handled more than 7 million ILL requests from all over the world.

We’ve been gathering this data for many years and publishing it here for the past two years. It’s always interesting to see what books made the top ten ILL list and what, if any, broader observations we can make. We debuted our ILL “best sellers list” for 2017 last week at the OCLC Resource Sharing Conference with the resource sharing community, who always enjoy guessing which work made the top spot.

Well, in 2017, ILL requests once again were closely aligned with current events—what was taking place in the news and popular culture.* Here are latest themes in interlibrary loan based on our data.

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On Ireland, library data, and humanities research

Brian Lavoie

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St. Patrick’s Day is nearly upon us, and our thoughts turn to Ireland and the Irish …

… and to the new OCLC Research report, An Exploration of the Irish Presence in the Published Record, in which we use library data to identify and explore materials by Irish authors, about Ireland, and/or published in Ireland. In this report, we map out the features of the Irish landscape in WorldCat, including the most popular Irish author, as measured by library holdings (Jonathan Swift); the most popular work by an Irish author (Gulliver’s Travels); and the most translated Irish author (Oscar Wilde). Did you know that Northern Ireland-born Eve Bunting is the most popular Irish author in 29 US states? Or that toddler favorite Guess How Much I Love You is the 13th most popular work by an Irish author (Sam McBratney)?

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The remarkable acceleration of shared print

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Ten years ago, on February 22, 2008, fresh from a consulting project at a very crowded Davidson College Library, I drafted a first description of a “selective withdrawal system” for libraries. Back then I envisioned “an automated decision-support tool that assists libraries in weeding their print book collections intelligently and efficiently” and also noted that “deselection must be pursued with care, to assure that future scholars will have access to the scholarly and cultural record.”

If you had told me then that within ten short years, shared print programs would encompass more than 40 million long-term monograph retention commitments, I’d have doubted your sanity. There’s no way anyone could have predicted how quickly these programs would grow.

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Get closer to “customer first” in seven days

Cathy King

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Over the past year or so, I’ve started to see new ‘customer experience’ job titles (like Chief Customer Experience Officer and Deputy Director of Customer Experience) pop up in libraries that have been present in the consumer space for some time. Makes sense. Having someone focus on how people use your products and services across the entire range of your organization and throughout their life with you is such an important part of doing business today.

And while developing a truly user-centric strategy may sound like a big, strategic move, you can start to plan small changes that inspire broader transformation in just a week.

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Make the first move: three ways to initiate relationship-building conversations

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Over the past few years, I’ve seen discussions of customer service shift from measurements of individual interactions to programs that track and analyze all of a customer’s activities. That is, rather than focusing on what makes for a good sale or a good complaint follow-up, the trend is toward examining the entire “customer experience.” I’ve seen dozens of programs and hundreds of articles that aim to help us capture every tweet, post, like, click, thumbs-up, visit, and phone call in an attempt to “know the whole picture” for a customer.

That’s a good step forward. No one interaction happens in a vacuum. But I think it also misses the mark when it comes to library services. What we do is still incredibly hands-on and, for many library users, very personal and creates an experience that’s more than the sum of our analytics.

A recent conversation with Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library Chief Executive Officer Gina Millsap brought that message home to me. For her library, they’ve moved beyond customer service and customer experience into a relationship-focused strategy.

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To keep people happy … keep some books

Saskia Leferink

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At the 2017 Dutch Contact Day last October, we heard how staff at the library of the Free University of Amsterdam is going to renovate their library space. One request students made? Surprisingly (perhaps), they wanted books around them. Not just because of the information that physical books provide, but because of the atmosphere and comfort they provide. So, the library kept the books as part of their renovation.

This may seem counterintuitive in our digital world as more and more of our experiences happen online. And it raises a few questions: What role does the physical library play in a digital world? And what makes people still want to come to this place?

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Three tools for building better bridges

Katie Birch

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The theme for our upcoming Resource Sharing Conference in Jacksonville, Florida, is “Bridging Communities.” I think that’s a great way to describe the work that resource sharing librarians do in an inspiring way—we create paths to get people to the information they need, often crossing obstacles and boundaries that are otherwise impassable. In many cases, we build those bridges using unique information literacy talents that librarians bring to the table.

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