It’s been a great adventure!
As I prepare to retire on June 30 as OCLC’s fourth President and CEO, I would like to thank all of you in the OCLC community for your support and encouragement over these past 14 years.
We have done much together.
Permit me to present some statistics. Since 1998, the number of libraries participating in the OCLC cooperative has grown from 30,000 to more than 72,000. The number of participating institutions outside the U.S. has increased from 3,200 in 64 countries to 16,215 in 170 countries. The number of bibliographic records in WorldCat has grown from 39 million to more than 264 million, and the number of holdings has increased from 668 million to more than 1.8 billion.
While these numbers are impressive, they are only part of the story. The OCLC cooperative is really about people, information and technology. Let me discuss my tenure in that context, starting with technology.
We have seen vast changes in technology, including the ubiquity of the Web, the dominance of search engines such as Google, and the rapid adoption of mobile access to information. Against this backdrop, OCLC’s technology has also evolved. In 2000, we started providing all OCLC services via the Internet. That same year, we began to move OCLC from an environment in which it had built and maintained its own proprietary system for more than 30 years to one of hardware and licensed software with widespread industry adoption and open architectural models.
Today, OCLC uses rapid application development techniques and continuous improvement based on user feedback. We operate eight engineering centers in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. We assemble local and virtual teams to develop Webscale services for libraries around the world. In 2008, we expanded our development resources with the launch of the OCLC Developer Network, which today has nearly 500 registered library developers who propose, develop and test OCLC Web services.
Since 1998, OCLC has been registered to ISO 9001, the international standard for quality assurance in design, development, production, installation and servicing. This year, we became registered to the ISO 27001 standard for information security management, which means that we have robust security processes in place to protect the cooperative’s data and privacy information around the world.
In 2000, our stated objective was to weave libraries into the Web and the Web into libraries. We have done that through such innovations as WorldCat.org; WorldCat Local, including mobile access; and most recently, through WorldShare Management Services. The latter is a radically different approach.
Perhaps the crowning achievement of the OCLC cooperative these past 14 years was to start making the WorldCat database available to people everywhere on the Internet in 2006.
Going forward, OCLC will continue to adopt new technology as it evolves. Indeed, OCLC staff are already preparing to move WorldCat to a new environment in 2013 that uses Apache Hadoop and HBase software, which will provide greater efficiencies as well as new capabilities for libraries.
Since 1998, we have developed new ways to manage and display the OCLC cooperative’s information. Today’s bibliographic record is graphically appealing, includes cover art, recommendations and easy ways for users to find items in nearby libraries. The type of information that OCLC handles is also changing. We are rapidly extending WorldCat to represent the collective collection of the OCLC cooperative, including books and journals, licensed digital content and the growing array of local content that is being digitized. With the new WorldShare Platform, we are starting to handle member libraries’ circulation and usage statistics.
We are making our data work harder. For example, WorldCat Identities, which was created by OCLC researchers, provides summary pages for some 25 million personal and corporate authors mentioned in WorldCat. We are now turning the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF), another research project, into an OCLC service. The VIAF combines name authority files from 22 national libraries and agencies from 19 countries into a single name authority service. It is an example of linked open data, which will play an increasingly important role in the OCLC cooperative.
We have developed new information for our members, through ongoing OCLC Research reports. We have also created an advocacy program whose surveys and studies provide libraries with the information they need to enlist support in their local communities.
In any equation involving people, information and technology, people are the most important part. The OCLC cooperative comprises a vast group of people around the world who are committed to OCLC’s public purposes of furthering access to the world’s information and reducing library costs. WorldCat continues to be a living tribute to the work of thousands of catalogers around the world who, keystroke by keystroke, have created an incomparable library resources used by millions.
I have been exceptionally privileged to work with the 1,250 people on the OCLC staff in our 20 offices in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States. First and foremost, they believe strongly in OCLC’s mission and public purposes. That shared belief unites them and motivates them to work hard on behalf of the OCLC membership. They are smart and talented. It is an honor for me to have been their leader.
The people who have served on the OCLC Board of Trustees, the Global and Regional Councils, and various advisory committees and task forces these past 14 years have contributed immeasurably to the success of the cooperative. I am grateful for your willingness to invest energy and intellect in the governance of OCLC. Libraries and library users have benefited from your expertise and wisdom. Thank you.
Together, we have put the world in WorldCat, so that today fully 60 percent of its records represent languages other than English.
I leave holding members of the library profession in the highest esteem. It is your passion and dedication to providing equitable and affordable access to information that truly raises the quality of life for millions of people around the world.
OCLC President and Chief Executive Officer
About the Author
Jay is the fourth president in OCLC's 46-year history. He came to OCLC in May 1998 after a 24-year career with IHS, an international publisher of databases, where he held a series of key positions in top management.