“As a library cooperative like no other, we come together to lead the way.”–Skip Prichard, OCLC President and Chief Executive Officer

Dear colleagues,

OCLC members and staff come together as a community to make breakthroughs happen today and to shape a shared future for libraries. We leverage a shared history, knowledge and community in order to make positive changes on behalf of those we serve.

Together, we identify challenges that cross institutional and national boundaries. Together, we find better solutions. Together, we increase access to information for all.

In FY16 we took on some big challenges. We advanced our shared mission. We undertook the largest technical upgrade in our history. We strengthened member engagement. We improved customer service. We saw a steady improvement in our financial results. And, we became the fastest-growing library services platform provider in the world.

It would not be unreasonable for most organizations to set a five-year time frame for goals of this scope. We achieved them in one. It was critical to move with urgency and purpose because this work will get us to a better future, faster, together. As a library cooperative like no other, we come together to lead the way.

Delivering on our mission

We have come together as OCLC because what is known must be shared. We fundamentally believe that access to knowledge is vital to the people, communities and causes that libraries serve.

In the past year, we introduced an online Community Center where members can better share and gain knowledge about OCLC services. More than 4,000 library leaders and staff participated in OCLC member events held around the world. More than 170,000 social media engagements occurred through OCLC social media outlets, including our new OCLC Next blog. We studied and implemented shared print programs. We attracted more publishers and partners to work with the cooperative. And we continued to add many national catalogs, unique local collections and important academic resources to WorldCat. All of these achievements are possible only because thousands of OCLC member libraries make an ongoing commitment to sharing.

Advancing our technology platform

OCLC libraries have always been technology leaders. Working together gives us access to platforms and technologies unavailable to single institutions. That cooperation is more important than ever as we keep pace with users' expectations. To meet that challenge head on, in FY16 we implemented the largest technology investment in our cooperative’s history.

We now share a global technology foundation second to none in the library information environment. As one of the highest-performing infrastructures available today, it will support us far into the future. We have added capacity, strengthened our security and advanced our recovery capabilities. This investment will provide libraries with faster access to data, greater reliability and increased system performance. And it will allow OCLC to lead the way, scaling services that can support more libraries, more upgrades, more applications and more end users.

Extending our shared services

WorldCat is the backbone of our work together as a cooperative, and as of 30 June, it had grown to 380 million records and 2.4 billion holdings around the world. Together, we expanded WorldCat by about 35 million records and 160 million holdings in FY16, and we marked the 45th anniversary of WorldCat. WorldCat continues to offer greater visibility for libraries and users with linked data and Unicode enhancements.

WorldShare Management Services (WMS) also reached a significant milestone: it has been five years since launch, and together we’ve achieved an unparalleled adoption rate by libraries around the world. More than 500 libraries spanning 17 countries and six continents have selected WMS, making it the fastest-growing library services platform in history.

We made major product strides in interlibrary loan and increased the Unicode capabilities of our metadata services. And we made the decision, based on member feedback, to continue to deliver full-featured WorldCat searching in a new version of FirstSearch, still separate from WorldCat Discovery.

Exploring our shared opportunities

To keep pace with changing technology and user expectations, and to play a larger role in our communities and on our campuses, we must continually look forward, monitoring trends and user perceptions.

In FY16, we conducted studies and programs that explored the importance of putting the library in the life of the user. This is an ongoing theme that we believe is vital to the future of successful library services. We also looked at system-wide perspectives in cooperative management of library collections and new modes of support for research processes technologies. OCLC invests significantly in research, and we share it openly to benefit all libraries.

Ensuring our future

In FY16, our revenues from library services were consistent. Several services, such as WorldShare Management Services and Sustainable Collection Services, experienced significant growth. Others remained flat or showed some decline. We improved our financial results and narrowed the negative return on our operations by reducing millions of dollars in expenses and carefully managing costs. We continued to invest 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.

FY16 highlights include:

Strengthening our community

I begin my fourth year at OCLC more confident and energized than ever before. We have shifted resources from infrastructure projects to product development. We are on a journey together to transform our cooperative to have even greater impact. Some of this transformation is readily visible. If you’ve been to our global headquarters recently for a user group session, a member meeting, a Global Council meeting or just for a visit, you've seen some changes to our 35-year-old facility. In FY16, we made significant renovations to the public areas and corporate library within our headquarters to enhance our culture of delivering with speed, accountability and excellence.

Much of the transformation, however, occurs below the surface and positions us for stronger delivery and impact not just today, but into the future. We have improved our infrastructure, strengthened our leadership and advanced our shared purpose. We continue to shift our culture, giving us a future-focused foundation that supports ongoing evolution and delivery.

As I travel and speak with librarians, I am continually impressed by how open we are to exploration and reinvention. Librarians often lead the way in adopting the new tools of our digital age—but always with an eye on maintaining our core values of cooperation, sharing and service.

Thank you for your leadership throughout our FY16 journey. I hope to see or hear from you in FY17.

Respectfully,

Skip Prichard
OCLC President and
Chief Executive Officer