Exploring the World of Heritage
Changing role of libraries
For OCLC, an exploration of the professional setting is of vital importance to formulating business strategy and revenue models. As a ‘library-driven’ organisation, OCLC obtains its input for strategy, business operations and products mainly from the world of academic and public libraries worldwide. The wishes and the ideas in the global library world are currently being confronted by all kinds of technical possibilities and developments. As such, OCLC is constantly able to deliver state-of-the-art products and services to the library sector. What we are also seeing however, is that library world, particularly with regard to the public libraries, is changing fast. These changes are not just being caused by technological developments, but also by new visions as to the role of libraries in society. Increasingly, libraries are being seen as a meeting place and a podium for cultural activities. More explicitly, the question is also being asked as to whether the stand-alone library has a future.
As a result of these questions, we are seeing new organisations emerge. These are organisations in which the function of the library is being accommodated, but whose role has become subordinate in the business strategy. These organisations are primarily those that combine the work of a library with that of archiving and museum activities. In such organisations there is a strong need to integrate search systems, digital presentations of information products, and such like. For OCLC, the key question is whether existing products meet the requirements of these new entities in the heritage and information world and what new products will be needed.
To gain an insight into the organisational and strategic developments in the wider heritage sector, the OCLC’s ‘Libraries/archives/museum’ taskforce is carrying out an initial exploratory survey. In April 2013 Oleg Kreymer, Ann Pedersen and Bert Looper started their work as members of the taskforce, trying to answer the following questions:
- What are the developments in countries relevant to the OCLC with respect to the integration of libraries, museums and archives in new organisations; are mergers ongoing or effected; are there models of collaboration operational? What is the strategic vision behind these integrations, mergers and joint ventures?
- What visions have been developed by these new organisational entities with respect to the integration and searchability of library, museum or archive-based information systems?
Because of the scope of the project, the taskforce decided to start a pilot in Europe, especially in the Netherlands, Denmark and Italy. With help of the faculty of Information Studies of the University of Amsterdam and with help of the OCLC Leiden Office, in 2014 several expert-meetings will be organised to get answers to the key-questions. The taskforce wants to report in the April 2015 Global Council. Depending on the results of the pilot, a more global investigation will be rolled out.
For more information: Email Bert Looper