3 million knocks on library doors every day

Mary Sauer-Games

API_blogHow do we help information seekers find library resources online? OCLC began asking that question more than 10 years ago. The 2005 Perceptions Report showed that almost nobody began information searches at library websites. Aware of the changes in information seeking behavior, we’d begun the OCLC “Open WorldCat” program in 2003 in order to get library metadata into popular online services. Open WorldCat provided direct access to the data in WorldCat to a variety of search and discovery providers who then linked users back to resources in member libraries.

At the end of the pilot that launched Open WorldCat, we were getting around 4,000 hits per day, which we considered successful enough to warrant moving forward. We have continued to add services that drive users to OCLC services and member libraries. One of our fastest-growing services is our suite of APIs.

Today, we’re seeing more than 3 million hits per day to OCLC APIs.

What makes that possible? One reason is that the diversity of APIs we offer allows a range of partners to tap into the cooperative’s resources for a variety of purposes. A quick look at one of the

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Let’s open library doors to Wikipedia

wiki-librariesWhat if Wikipedia, the sixth most popular website on the planet, and libraries joined forces? The result could be transformative. Deeper, more authoritative content embedded in this internet encyclopedia. Librarians actively helping their communities raise their profiles. And libraries connecting their unique resources with a larger web audience.

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The needs of one

2016-07-05 DisneyAt ALA in Orlando, we heard a great talk from Amy Rossi from the Disney Institute about Disney’s approach to customer service. I’m glad we’ve had a chance to share some notes from her presentation and some thoughts from a few of the librarians who attended. I’d like, though, to take one final look at some of the insights she shared, this time from the point of view of customer service here at OCLC. As head of our customer operations team, it’s not just a subject that I find fascinating, it’s also my passion and my responsibility.

Star Trek’s Mr. Spock famously tells us that, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” or, as interjected by Captain Kirk, “the one.” That may hold true philosophically, but not when it comes to customer service. While new products or features may be developed to meet the needs of the many, service questions and concerns are almost always about the needs of “the one.” And that’s where we get into the SPOC Paradox.

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The touchpoints of exceptional customer service

2016-07-05 DisneyDuring the OCLC Symposium at ALA Annual this year, we got the opportunity to hear from Disney Institute’s Amy Rossi. Amy talked about how Disney seeks to understand the complete customer experience and “overmanage” the details that contribute to it. You can find a longer summary of the event in my previous post.

During the event, Amy gave us some time to think about and share the touchpoints that visitors to the library (virtual or in person) encounter and what kind of experience they’re likely to have. At my table, we talked mostly about library signage—how do we give people all the information they’ll need without crowding the entrance way with signs? Other people shared concerns about parking lots, the staff members who sit closest to the front door, how users click through the library’s website and many other touchpoints.

We caught a few attendees after the event to capture their immediate thoughts on how Amy’s presentation relates specifically to libraries. Here’s what they had to share.

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What Disney taught us about great service

2016-07-05 Disney

ALA Annual is always a great place to learn and meet people. As the Vice President of Management and Customer Operations at OCLC, I found that one of the highlights of this year’s conference was the OCLC Symposium on how to deliver a great customer experience. Now, if you’re like me, when you think about Disney’s magic you don’t think about parking lots or birds in the Enchanted Tiki Room that look like they’re actually breathing. But it’s exactly those types of details that make the Disney experience so complete, compelling and successful.

Amy Rossi from the Disney Institute—who admitted that she once moved to a new city and got a library card before a new driver’s license—talked to us about how Disney manages its customer experience. She started out by making the great point that Disney and libraries are really in the same industry: the service industry. To Disney, entertainment and hospitality are side effects of great service. Likewise, people come to libraries for a lot of different reasons, but all libraries provide service.

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The Collective Perspective

collective-collections

Collective collection has become part of the librarian argot. Coined by our colleague, Lorcan Dempsey, the term emerged from OCLC Research’s work analyzing library collections at scales above the institutional level—group, consortial, regional, national, and even global.

The best way of understanding collective collections is to start with WorldCat, which is a global registry of library holdings. Taken together, these holdings document the sum total of materials available in library collections worldwide—or at least a close approximation. In this sense, WorldCat represents the collective collection of the global library system as a whole.

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36 tips for making webinars that don’t stink

Sharon Streams

webinar-laptop

 

DINAH: It stinks.

MRS. LORD: Oh, darling, don’t say “stinks”! If necessary, “smells,” but only if absolutely necessary.

Philadelphia Story (1940)*

 

Let’s not mince words, Mrs. Lord: webinars can stink in many ways—disorganized or dull, poor audio, boring slides, ploddingly paced, crowded with content, too commercial, no interaction, presenters running over time, technical glitches. Need I go on?

Even though webinars have been around since the 1990s and it seems that almost every organization does them, there is still significant variation in quality. This inconsistency has not only led to disappointing learning experiences, it has caused consternation among providers of continuing education and professional development that see the potential for webinars as an effective delivery format for learning at scale if used well.

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Time travelling ILL

time-travel-ill

The Twilight Reference Zone

Picture if you will an American public library. Any library will do. A smartly dressed, clean-shaven man in his mid-40s approaches the reference desk.

“Can I help you find something?” asks the librarian.

“Yes,” says the man, “I’m looking for a copy of Bats and Bones, a Frannie Shoemaker Campground Mystery.”

“Let me see if I can find that for you,” says the young woman behind the desk as she checks FirstSearch.

“Just one thing, please,” asks the man as he waits. “I’m looking for a specific edition.”

Scrolling past titles, the librarian says, “Oh?” without looking up.

“Yes,” says the man. “I’m looking for the edition that will be published in the year 2102.”

[Cue creepy music.]

This library has entered…the Twilight Reference Zone.

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Time to change

Andrew K. Pace

Change

The Brady Bunch: Time to Change

When it’s time to change then it’s time to change
Don’t fight the tide come along for the ride, don’t you see
When it’s time to change you’ve got to rearrange
Move your heart into what you’re gonna be.
Sha na na na na na na na na, sha na na na na

Those unforgettable lyrics were immortalized by fictional pop-sensations, The Brady Bunch Kids. I will admit that I cannot utter the phrase “time to change” without hearing Peter Brady’s voice crack. I am unabashedly a child of the 1970s.

Fortunately for me, my most recent change at OCLC was what many have described as a “good fit,” not just for me, but also for OCLC and its growing membership. After eight years of managing a range of products and services in the Library Management, Cataloging & Metadata and Discovery & Syndication lines of businesses—accentuated by the launch five years ago of WorldShare Management Services—I was offered an opportunity to start a new gig under Lorcan Dempsey in the newly formed Membership &

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Is anything more important than convenience?

woman-hammockIn today’s fast-paced world, people want information quickly and conveniently. In almost all situations, they decide what services to pursue and what resources to use based on ease of access, ease of use and the situation and context of the information need. It doesn’t matter if the person is young or old, the deadline near or far, the task scholarly or personal—familiarity and ease of use within individual workflows reign.

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