Posts tagged under: Research

The OCLC Global Council survey on discovery and fulfillment: an important baseline

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How do library users navigate their paths from an initial point-of-need to the final moment of getting the resources they require? That process can be as fast as a single search and one click, or it can encompass many stops and starts, false trails, frustrations, and wrong turns … as I think we, as information professionals, can testify from our own research efforts.

Understanding and improving those journeys is among the most important work we do.

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Public libraries generate social capital that can save lives

Chris Cyr, Ph.D.

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When disaster strikes, libraries are there to help. In California, where many have been forced from their homes due to forest fires and power outages, libraries like Folsom Public Library have become a refuge for people who need to charge devices, use WiFi, or just have a place to go. In March of 2011, a powerful earthquake triggered enormous tsunami waves in the Tōhoku region of Japan, killing thousands of people, driving hundreds of thousands from their homes, and leaving millions without electricity and water service. In the months after this horrific disaster, as hundreds of government services, NGOs, and private and international relief agencies struggled to help communities recover, residents also looked to public libraries for help.

Why is that? Libraries don’t provide food, water, electricity, or medical services. In many cases, libraries had suffered the same catastrophic losses as their neighbors; staff had perished or been injured, buildings completely destroyed or unusable, resources gutted. Why, then, did people so quickly turn to libraries after a disaster? Because of social capital.

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Open content: where we are and where we’re going

Rachel Frick

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Last year during Open Access Week, I wrote to you to encourage your participation in our Open Content Survey. The timing was fortuitous, as there was (and is) a great appetite for understanding the evolving open content landscape and what it means for libraries. At OCLC, we were forging ahead with research, product development, MARC proposals, publisher agreements, and more. All with the goal of enhancing the visibility and accessibility of open content for library users. You can learn more about responses to the Open Content Survey in this results summary, and watch a recording of our “Works in Progress” webinar, “The Shift to Open at University and Research Libraries Worldwide.” In this webinar, my colleague Titia van der Werf (Senior Program Officer, OCLC Research) shares more results from the study.

Now it’s Open Access Week 2019, and over the last year we’ve made some excellent progress.

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Reenergize your marketing strategy in three simple steps

Mary Lou Carolan

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Having worked in public libraries of all sizes for the past 15 years, I’ve found there’s one common thread. Actually, there are many, but one really critical thing stands out. We don’t toot our own horn nearly enough, yet marketing always seems like an easy target to kick off our overflowing to-do list. And while we’re generally great planners, when it comes to marketing, we’re not always the best implementers. This is why I wasn’t surprised that 40 percent of public libraries have a communications strategy, but only 17 percent keep it current.

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What is the top novel of all time?

Skip Prichard

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What is the top novel of all time? War and Peace? Moby Dick? Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Dream of the Red Chamber?

The answer is, of course, “it depends.” It depends on your definitions and measures. Sales? Number of copies published?

One way of measuring is to look at library collections. Libraries reflect popular interest. However, they also reflect scholarly and cultural interest over time. Libraries are where the world’s literature is stewarded and defined.

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Linked data in libraries: From disillusionment to productivity

Andrew K. Pace

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I’ve been talking about linked data a lot lately. Before you say, “Oh, that’s so five minutes ago,” let’s frame linked data technologies and principles as a technology trend in libraries that continues to get (and deserves) extra attention. I’m naturally skeptical when libraries try to apply new technologies to long-solved problems, but I am now thoroughly convinced that the library needs linked data platforms. It’s one of our last chances to embark on innovations that we’ve known for a long time are not possible with the increasingly arcane and anachronistic MARC record.

It’s not always easy to see “what’s in it for me?” in linked data, so let me attempt a view from the many rocks we stand on.

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An “open” discussion

Rachel Frick

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What does “open” mean? There’s a general acknowledgment among librarians, publishers, and various funding bodies that the term “open” describes a complex continuum, rather than defining a specific set of criteria when used to describe items in our collections.

What has become entirely unambiguous, though, is that libraries are now expected—by researchers, funders, faculty colleagues, and especially end-users—to provide services that support open materials and workflows as fully as any other kind of content.

OCLC Global Council delegates work on behalf of the OCLC membership to reflect the needs of member institutions. At their meeting this past March, delegates expressed their strong interest in additional focus around this issue. With their advice, we established a cross-organizational work team to benchmark current OCLC activities and investigate new ways to support the library community throughout the Open Access (OA) life cycle.

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Meet your guide for an Amazon journey: a librarian

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This last July, Forbes published an essay that suggested Amazon stores could replace libraries. The piece was pulled down within a couple days, after nearly 8,000 comments on Twitter and a great many response pieces suggesting that this wasn’t even a bad argument, buttwaddle.” These responses emphasized the role that libraries play in providing services (beyond just books) to people who otherwise might not have access to them.

Some recent library user research we conducted in partnership with the Worthington Libraries in Ohio suggests that these criticisms of the Forbes piece don’t go far enough. Not only isn’t Amazon a replacement for libraries, but our statistical models indicate that library use supports commercial book sales as well as other social and retail activities.

In short: if you want to look for more customers for your online book business, look in libraries.

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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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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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