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President’s Report
A word from Skip Prichard

Cooperation on all scales

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It seems particularly appropriate to me that the cover story for this issue of NextSpace—my first as President and CEO of OCLC—revolves around a question: “What keeps you up at night?”


In my first few months at OCLC, asking questions has been a major focus of my time. Because while watching broad industry trends is helpful, of course, it’s just as important to step back and look at the community, one institution, one library, one person at a time.

While watching broad industry trends is helpful, it’s just as important to step back and look at the community, one institution, one library, one person at a time.

As our writers worked with the librarians featured here, two themes came up repeatedly: customer service and cooperation. Whether discussing new technology in Nigerian libraries, demographics in rural Idaho or government relations in the U.K., all of our librarians identified the need to increase their focus on customer service. To quote Megan McGlynn, Access Services Librarian at the University of Michigan (U.S.), “We want to give our users the materials they need, in the formats they want, at lightning speeds.” A simply stated goal—but one that requires ongoing attention and reassessment as new technology and media become available.

How to achieve real customer-focused impact in a world of increased demands and funding challenges? The answer is also reflected in our interviewees’ responses: cooperation. David N. Ofili, Web and Pharmacy Librarian at the University of Benin in Nigeria told us, “Collaboration is a cherished opportunity for my library. If sharing resources and services can reduce cost today, then, a way has been paved for cost reduction in the future.” Maria Luisa Arenas Franco, the retired Library Director for Pontificia Universidad Catolica in Santiago, Chile, echoed that thought, saying, “Introducing and supporting new services will require sharing information, expertise, training, bibliographical resources, new IT developments, good practices and metadata management on all scales.”

I want to hear about your library’s challenges, what you’ve done to meet them and what the cooperative can do to help solve the problems keeping you up at night.

Sharing between libraries “on all scales” isn't always easy. There are technical, legal, logistical and even cultural challenges to overcome. Gretchen Caserotti, Library Director for the Meridian Library District in Meridian, Idaho (U.S.), reminds us, that cooperation extends beyond the doors of libraries: “[having] someone from the library be at the table when a problem is addressed and be able to say, ‘How can the library help you?’”

As OCLC’s new CEO, I’d like to paraphrase Gretchen’s question: how can OCLC help you? The communities you support have local, specific needs, yes. But I believe our best results will come when we work together across as many areas as possible. I want to hear about your library’s challenges, what you’ve done to meet them and what the cooperative can do to help solve the problems keeping you up at night. Please contact me by email at skip@oclc.org or at @SkipPrichard on Twitter, or introduce yourself at a live event.

The more we communicate about what keeps us up at night—and what we’re each doing about it—the more ways we’ll have to be successful across, as Maria Luisa puts it, “all scales” that libraries represent.

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Skip Prichard
OCLC President and Chief Executive Officer

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About the Author

  • Skip Prichard

    Skip Prichard

    Skip is the fifth president in OCLC’s 46-year history. He joined OCLC in July 2013 after serving as President and CEO of Ingram Content Group Inc., where he expanded Ingram’s international operations, strengthened its digital offerings, and repositioned the company as a services provider.

We are a worldwide library cooperative, owned, governed and sustained by members since 1967. Our public purpose is a statement of commitment to each other—that we will work together to improve access to the information held in libraries around the globe, and find ways to reduce costs for libraries through collaboration. Learn more »