When knowledge is accessible to all, people can generate better ideas, be more innovative and solve problems. Libraries exist to share knowledge and make breakthroughs possiblefrom sweeping changes at the global level to the meaningful advancement of a single person. This year we did some work to better articulate why wemembers, staff and partnerscooperate and share. We come together because we believe, we know, that knowledge transforms lives. Because what is known must be shared.
This is a purposefully bold statement. Because what librarians do is bold and aspirational. Lives really are changed when knowledge is shared. This is an important evolution in how we approach our work together.
As a global cooperative, we are unique because we address challenges and opportunities at scale, moving further, faster, together. We share ideas and best practices, insight and feedback, collections and research. In the past year, we have placed an emphasis on solutions that address key opportunities and needs:
WorldCat, the core of the cooperative’s commitment to sharing, continues to grow. We’ve worked with regional and national institutions such as the Shanghai Library, the National Library of the Netherlands and the Public Reading Network of Euskadi in Spain to add millions of titles. We’ve continued to improve the user experience of library search with advancements to WorldCat Discovery. And we’ve added content from major providers such as LexisNexis and Elsevier.
It’s not just the size of WorldCat that matterswe have spent a great deal of time making WorldCat more useful and accessible. We want our users involved in how our services operate. That is why we have launched a linked data pilot look-up service involving several of our member institutions. Our ongoing linked data efforts will become a part of a redesign of our bibliographic infrastructure that takes advantage of the new, interconnected information environment. Among other initiatives, we are: working with the Library of Congress to enhance BIBFRAME’s utility; expressing bibliographic linked data in Schema.org; developing a backbone of work and person identities; and, working with national libraries around the world on VIAFa consolidation of national authority files.
Members consistently tell us they need to save time on routine tasks so that they can concentrate on high-impact efforts that demonstrate relevance. And we’re hearing that WorldShare is helping libraries to do just that. For example, the evaluation of e-journal and e-book packages, determining overlap, acquiring appropriate new content and tracking use can be a long process. With our new WorldShare Reports, these problems can be addressed with the click of a mouse. With 350 WorldShare Management Services (WMS) user institutions in 12 countries at the end of FY2015, these solutions are resonating with members.
Library physical spaces are undergoing important changes. When I visit OCLC member libraries today, I see coffee shops, collaborative student spaces and art workshops. To make room for those activities, we need to address the question of the stacks. We have researched shared print and produced an evidence base for decisions about collections. And by acquiring Sustainable Collection Services (SCS) last year, we brought in some long-time partners so that they can do even more to help our libraries’ need to make smart decisions. These historic transformations require new methods for managing collections. We’ve done the research and built the tools that members can now put to work.
OCLC has the healthy financial position necessary to make these kinds of breakthroughs. We manage our resources and investments with a long-term outlook to best meet our members’ current needs while investing for the future. As a not-for-profit cooperative, we employ a cost-sharing philosophy. We strive to achieve an operating income over time that is a modest 24% of revenues. In FY2015, for the sixth straight year, we realized a negative return on our operations. We are able to offset this deficit with interest income and strong capital gains from our investment portfolio. But we have also taken steps to ensure that our operating expenditures are aligned with those areas that our members care most about. Over the coming year we will be making significant capital investments in our technology infrastructure to advance the delivery of our cloud-based services. This will ensure that OCLC is prepared to meet member needs well into the future.
Please see the FY2015 Breakthroughs and Financials sections of this online report for additional details.
to stay focused on the why
In the coming year, I’d like to challenge OCLCboth our members and our staffto keep our focus on sharing knowledge and enabling breakthroughs. It’s easy to get caught up in features and functions, specific issues and individual programs. Those are important, yes, but they are the means to our end goal. Our collective purposesharing knowledge so that people, communities and institutions can make important breakthroughsis at the heart of what we all do and why we come together as OCLC.
I look forward to sharing more with you in the upcoming year, and to hearing about your breakthroughs. Thank you.
OCLC President and Chief Executive Officer