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New definition of membership emphasizes the collaborative nature of OCLC

In June 2013, the OCLC Board of Trustees and Global Council approved a revision to the definition of membership in the cooperative’s “Membership and Governance Protocols” to include participation in management services as a qualifying activity. We sat down with George Needham, OCLC Vice President, Global and Regional Councils, to get his thoughts on the change.

NextSpace: George…thanks for taking the time to go over the recent change to the definition of OCLC membership. Can you give us some background on why there was a need for a change?

George Needham: Glad to. First of all, this isn’t a new activity. The Global Council Membership Committee reviews the definition of membership every few years. In the last round of deliberations, the biggest change that was examined was OCLC’s global expansion. This growth has included many libraries in Europe and Australia whose primary OCLC service is an integrated library system (ILS). Not all these systems are connected to WorldCat yet, though the plan is to do so. Which means that, as of the moment, many libraries do not have an automatic means to contribute data to the cooperative. So, while these institutions have supported OCLC financially, they haven’t had a voice in OCLC governance.

NextSpace: And this drove the discussion about changing the definition of membership.

George: Exactly. The Membership Committee determined that it would facilitate more inclusive conversations within OCLC governance to expand the definition of membership now, bringing these new voices in as the technology evolves. Because the decisions we make today regarding OCLC WorldShare—our cooperative library management platform—will affect libraries using our current management services, we thought it was only fair to include them as members in those discussions.

NextSpace: And were there any other changes?

George: Yes. In the past, there was a three-year “grace period” during which, if your library didn’t use a qualifying service, you were still considered a member. That’s been lowered to one year.

NextSpace: Makes sense. And what is the timeline for these changes?

George: Though the new definition is now official, it won’t actually take effect until July 2014. We have a lot of preparation to do, and we need to communicate extensively with the new member libraries, so we are looking at this as an implementation year.

NextSpace: And will it substantially alter the number of members or the makeup of Global Council?

George: Yes and no. We think that we’ll be adding about 4,000 libraries, primarily in EMEA, where most of our current management services users are. Because representation in Global Council is determined by gross revenue for the regions, though, not number of members, the change won’t have an effect on the number of representatives from the regions.

NextSpace: Thanks for the background, George. Anything else to add?

George: I would very much like to thank Kathleen Imhoff, the Chair of the Board’s Membership Committee, and the other members of the Committee, Maggie Farrell, Loretta Parham, Anne Prestamo, Poul Erlandsen and Andrew Wells, and the former chair of the Committee, Bruce Newell. They worked diligently to come up with a new approach to membership that would be more inclusive and improve our conversation.

Asia Pacific annual conference in Bangkok focuses on cooperation

The OCLC Asia Pacific Regional Council (APRC) annual membership conference took place at the National Science and Technology Development Agency, in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday and Tuesday, 7–8 October 2013. About 340 people from 16 countries and territories attended the meeting. We spoke to Srichan Chancheewa (Director, Thammasat University Libraries, Thailand), the Vice Chair of the APAC Executive Committee, about her goals for the event.

NextSpace: What were your goals for the annual APRC meeting this year?

Srichan Chancheewa: I’d say that, beyond any specific agenda items, we were focused on giving librarians in the Asia Pacific region a chance to share their interesting experiences with each other and with OCLC. It was also a chance for more Thai librarians, in particular, to attend an OCLC event and get a chance to interact with the cooperative.

NextSpace: Was there a theme for the event?

Srichan: The theme for the event, and for the opening speech, was “Why Cooperation in Libraries?” I, personally, am very interested in ways in which OCLC might work with libraries in the region to increase opportunities for cooperation. All of our speakers brought their own expertise to this question. For example, Ms. Chaweewan Swasdee from Mahidol University, Thailand, presented her library’s WorldCat Local experience. Implementing a shared discovery service may not be a new kind of challenge for most Western libraries. But in this part of the world where we have to deal with various non-Roman scripts, sharing the experiences of one library will be an important step toward connecting more Thai libraries to OCLC.

NextSpace: Are there any new programs or initiatives you’re looking forward to for the OCLC Asia Pacific region?

Srichan: We, especially the Southeast Asian Libraries, are going to join the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. We hope this will give us another opportunity to ‘join hands,’ make friends and cooperate more in the near future. Any chance to make more connections in the region and share experiences is exciting.

NextSpace: What has been your experience so far as a member of the APRC Executive Committee?

Srichan: I have learned many new things in such a short time. Being on the Executive Committee means being an OCLC representative in this country, which means I need to be aware of new  developments and share them as much as possible with my local colleagues. I am quite certain that there are many more opportunities waiting for me, and I am excited to move forward.

NextSpace: Any other thoughts or ideas to share with OCLC members in your region?

Srichan: As a worldwide cooperative, OCLC is very different from other organizations. The chance to share and cooperate with so many other libraries around the world helps us all move forward and grow together.