Posts tagged under: Library Management

Ranganathan on shyness: Get over it!

Saskia Leferink

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Advice from the father of library science

In 1931, S.R. Ranganathan, a mathematician and librarian who is widely regarded as a founder of modern library science, published his seminal work, The Five Laws of Library Science. His five principles about managing the library get most of the publicity, but tucked away on page 65 is a gem of a quote sometimes overlooked but extremely important in our fast-changing world.

“If you want to be a reference librarian, you must learn to overcome not only your shyness but also the shyness of others.”

Ranganathan used this quote to describe behavioral change librarians needed to make in his day, when they were transitioning to serving readers from preserving books. No longer were readers considered a nuisance—they became the focus of the library. Librarians had to lose their shyness and come out from behind the desk to serve users, as well as overcome any reader shyness.

As we in the library community wrestle with change management, Ranganathan’s words ring as clearly today as they did 85 years ago. You can’t be shy when tackling change. Change requires a boldness that leaves reticence behind in order to embrace something new.

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Are you too comfortable in your culture?

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Culture matters

A lot has been written about organizational culture, but there is little consensus on what it actually is and how to change it. Two things we know for sure: organizational culture exists and it plays a crucial role in shaping behavior.

Why should we think about culture? Because your culture is how your organization does things. And how you do things is critical to your performance and success.

According to the Katzenbach Center, 96% of employees say some change to their organizational culture is needed, and 51% think their culture requires a major overhaul. So even if you’re comfortable, you probably should be thinking about how your organization’s culture impacts both goals and the quality-of-life for your employees.

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Beating Watson at a different game

Eric van Lubeek

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Recently I attended a meeting of the Dutch Association of Information Professionals (KNVI) where an IBM representative demonstrated Watson, the company’s famed supercomputer. Watson uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of data. The system can be fed an enormous collection of information and used to support complete knowledge domains or industries.

The demonstration was fascinating as I watched Watson receive and answer questions in natural language about cancer treatment and diagnosis.

As I left the meeting, I wondered what the impact of technology platforms like Watson will have on libraries. Clearly, the use of Watson, with its incredible ability to organize and analyze data, offers endless possibilities that will result in further automation of the information profession. What place will libraries have in a world of Watsons?

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Happy Customer Service Week: Hitting the mark

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What’s the best customer service you’ve ever helped provide?

The first week of October is Customer Service Week, an international celebration of the importance of customer service and of the people who serve and support customers on a daily basis. Librarians understand customer service as well as anyone. They wear their customer service hats every day in addition to all of the others they wear. So to celebrate Customer Service Week, we asked some of the folks at OCLC to share the service they’re most proud of having provided.

It was a hard question to get answers to because, like most good support staff, they want every interaction to be the best from the customer’s standpoint. But I think it’s important to share the stories we’re proud of. They inspire us to do more every day in hopes of hitting that mark again and again.

I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I do. If you have any suggestions or ideas for how your experience as an OCLC member could be improved, please don’t hesitate to email me directly at bordasd@oclc.org.

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Happy Customer Service Week: Wow Moments!

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What’s the best customer service you’ve ever received?

At OCLC, the goal of our customer service team—and all of our staff—is to support libraries better than anyone in the world. One way we do this is by focusing on “Wow!” support moments. Not every support interaction is going to be a “Wow!” moment, but when you have one, you remember it for a long time. We know that many librarians wear the “Customer Service Representative” hat in addition to all the others they wear, and that it’s a challenging and rewarding role. So to celebrate Customer Service Week here at OCLC, we thought it would be fun to ask our own staff around the world for their “Wow!” moments on the receiving end of customer service.

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Celebrating the first 500 WMS libraries

Andrew K. Pace

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A decade of remarkable change

In 2006, four library system vendors dominated the integrated library system market. OCLC partnered with most and was just beginning to consider its own solution. In the intervening decade, we’ve seen a lot of consolidation and rapid innovation.

Fast-forward to 2016. The ILS is now a legacy system, “next-gen” is practically passé, and Marshall Breeding has dubbed a new breed of library management and discovery services the “Library Service Platform.” Today, OCLC’s WorldShare Management Services (WMS) is one of only two offerings in this space—a true multi-tenant, cloud-based suite of services for managing and discovering the purchased and licensed collections of libraries. It took only five years for OCLC to attract 500 libraries to WMS, becoming a leading provider in a space that it didn’t even occupy a decade ago.

That would be a major achievement in any industry, by any company. That it was achieved by a nonprofit library cooperative is credit to the unique power behind that success—our members.

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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

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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

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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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