Guess what topic is tops on our blog this year?

Katie Birch

top-topics

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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It’s time to reinvent the collective collection

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This year, we are celebrating the cooperative’s 50th anniversary. In 1967, the Ohio library community changed the way they worked together to share their catalogs. It was truly a reinvention of cataloging, resource sharing and library discovery.

Today, as we begin our next 50 years, we are at another turning point that requires a new, even bolder vision. We are building on WorldCat, now the definitive global library collection, to provide library members, groups and regional and national partners even greater capacity to build, manage, and curate the collective collection.

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Customer Service Week: three opportunities to build, maintain, or break trust

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Trust is emotional, and is built transactionally

Customer Service Week is being celebrated around the world this week, and the theme is “Building Trust.” And while trust is certainly an emotional concept, it isn’t completely immune to training, practice, review, and reward.

How do you measure and improve in a nebulous area like trust? I’d like to go through three opportunities that are typical “trust points” for most service-oriented organizations. In each case, I’ll suggest how this moment can either build, maintain, or break down trust between you and the people you serve.

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Three things I learned about successful internships

Janelle Wilcox

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As part of the 2017 summer internship program at OCLC, one of the first things I learned was that many long-term employees really appreciate its culture. They told me they like working somewhere with a service focus, and where work-life balance is really encouraged. But for new student interns, it’s a whole new environment, and one that we have only a short time to experience. And while we came from many backgrounds and schools, our program’s focus on group learning is one of three things I’d recommend to anyone looking to make an internship program successful.

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The greatest coincidence in library employment history?

Jennifer Vinopal

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Although I spent the first 20 years of my library career in New York, I had, of course, heard of Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus Metropolitan Library being such an innovative system and winning so many awards. OCLC having its headquarters in Dublin, Ohio (a suburb of Columbus). And, of course, the fantastic libraries at The Ohio State University. If there was ever a list of “great cities to be a librarian in,” Columbus would certainly be at the top.

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LCSH, FAST, and the governance of subject terms

Andrew K. Pace

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Librarians are the most proactive professionals I have ever witnessed when it comes to identifying an opportunity for positive change and aggressively seeking a solution. That is just one reason out of many why I am proud to be a part of this community. Bibliographic authority, and the opportunities for the language to evolve and better reflect contemporary thinking, is continuously under such scrutiny. To point to a current example, there is an active discussion by a group within the library community about the opportunity to change the category term “Illegal Aliens” in OCLC’s Faceted Access to Subject Terminology (FAST).

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Hitting the sweet spot in leadership training

Kyle Willis

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In my career, I’ve been through several leadership training programs and have read many articles on career development. Some were great … some not so much. What I’ve noticed, though, is that the successful ones always seemed to feature the following:

  • Hands-on activities as well as theory
  • Access to engaged peers on a similar journey
  • Respect for the experience of participants

With so many training options to choose from, it’s satisfying when you participate in a program that has the right combination of factors and qualities to give you a rewarding experience and an arsenal of skills—the leadership training sweet spot.

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The “audacity and humility” of getting smarter

Ginny Steel

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Can things really be smart?

Is a thermostat programmed to change based on time of day and weather conditions “smarter”? How about a chat-bot that answers your customer service questions? What about an email feature that automatically sorts messages based on your past activities?

In many cases when we hear “smart [thing],” it’s a synonym for some kind of software automation based on sensors, data collection, or connected devices. Nearly half of Forbes17 Top Enterprise Tech Trends for 2017” relate to ideas of “smarter” services, apps, products, infrastructure, and lifestyles. The assumption is that by automating as many aspects of a process as possible, we’ll get better results.

I’m not convinced that’s the case.

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