A member is a member is a member: Poul Erlandsen
For OCLC, which as we know is a membership organisation, it is important to define who actually constitutes the membership.
It is important in the context of the overall communication from OCLC to member libraries, but it is especially important during elections conducted every year where members have the opportunity to elect their representatives in OCLC's governing bodies.
For libraries in our region EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) this means to elect members to the OCLC Global Council. These elected members also form the Executive Committee of the EMEA Regional Council.
For libraries and other cultural heritage organisations who are members it may also be interesting to be able to identify who are OCLC members in their own country or region.
The topic of membership has for several years regularly been on the agenda at meetings of the former Members Council - now Global Council - and in 2009, the current rules that define membership were adopted. These are provisions that are designed in a way to be as inclusive as possible. The only requirements to obtain membership are currently that an organisation:
- embraces the OCLC values of cooperation and sharing
- contractually agrees to contribute intellectual content, for example bibliographic records, or share resources with the entire Cooperative (and so will also be using an OCLC product or service).
When talking with libraries in the EMEA region, we hear too often that there is great uncertainty about membership, and many do not know how membership is defined. Many libraries are actually members without knowing it, while others believe themselves to be members without this being the case.
One situation which can cause this uncertainty is that not only in the EMEA region but also globally we have in recent years seen delivery of bibliographic records to WorldCat that are not made by individual libraries but of so-called aggregators on behalf of an often large group of libraries. This can typically be a national union catalogue delivered on behalf of hundreds of libraries, which thus automatically gain membership. This new situation has accelerated the need for a new look into the definition of membership.
Another question we are often presented with is, what benefits can be achieved through membership of OCLC? Are there any special benefits that are available to members only? Is OCLC not just a company that sells products like many other companies we know?
We have listened to all your questions and comments received regarding membership and therefore the EMEA Regional Council's Executive Committee has decided that there is a need to re-raise the issue in Global Council, and so we chose to present a resolution at the recent meeting of Global Council held in November 2012. The resolution we put forward contained various proposals which we believe will alleviate many of the problems we see today.
The outcome of the November meeting was that the case will now be brought up in the Joint Global Council / Board of Trustees Membership Committee. This will meet in early February and will have a thorough discussion of our suggestions. We hope this will result in a proposal for revision of the existing provisions.
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