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OCLC Annual Report 2018–2019 Changing Communities, Technology, and Knowledge


Dear colleagues,Last year was an exciting one for your cooperative. Together, we focused on the ways in which a global network of library professionals can effect major positive change. Again we transformed how we work and what we do.

We transformed:

  • … what library technology can accomplish for public libraries with the launch of OCLC Wise® in the US, as development in Germany gets underway as well.
  • … what libraries can do with shared data, completing a linked data prototype with the help of 16 partner libraries.
  • … how libraries can help their communities respond to pressing social issues, such as the opioid epidemic.
  • … the way in which we deal with issues of data privacy and security in all areas of the business, including our response to GDPR.
  • … how regional groups and national libraries such as Libraries and Archives Canada can make their published heritage more widely discoverable through WorldShare® and WorldCat®.

Transformations like these require leadership and an ability to understand and change with trends and new technologies. As people who work in and with libraries, we have an advantage in this area. We are knowledge workers and we can help our users and communities make the best use of the tools and ideas that we implement on their behalf. We can get in front of any new wave—and we can lead.

That’s the choice I see libraries making every day. To learn quickly so that they can teach. To adopt quickly so that they can improve. To evolve quickly so that they can thrive. It’s the choice to say, “We are the place where tomorrow happens.”

That’s the choice we make at OCLC. To lead and to transform.

Thank you for all that you do on behalf of our cooperative, and for the people and communities you serve. Your commitment to make changes that make a real difference inspires me more every year.

Skip Prichard
OCLC President and Chief Executive Officer

Year in Review

Transforming Communities

In FY19, OCLC members worked together in new ways, made possible by the unique strengths of our cooperative. From large‐scale, national infrastructure services down to individual, user‐level opportunities, the transformative power of our engaged, active members and staff is truly inspirational.

The first community engagement system for public libraries

OCLC Wise® is our community engagement system that’s creating new connections for public libraries. Already used by more than 75% of public libraries in the Netherlands, we launched Wise in the US last year. This year we grew the pool of early adopters, signing Orange County Library System, Gwinnett County Public Library, and Anythink Libraries. Allen County Public Library, the first early adopter, went live in November 2019.

We expanded Wise in Europe. The public library of Bree in Belgium went live with Wise in January. This was the first Wise library live outside of the Netherlands. Thirty more libraries with Cultuurconnect in Flanders, the Dutch‐speaking region of Belgium, followed. This project includes these as well as all of the other 315 public libraries in Flanders, with libraries implementing the system in phases through 2021.

German development of Wise is underway with input from several leading German public libraries.

Diagram: Logos of new Wise adopters
Photo: Public event at an Anythink Library

Photo courtesy Anythink Libraries

“Libraries are evolving, leaning outside of our walls, connecting with our communities in new and powerful ways. Defining our ‘why’ requires understanding how to shift our focus from books to people.”

Pam Sandlian Smith
Director, Anythink Libraries
Adams County, Colorado, US

Read the Next blog post

New ways to collaborate at national levels

Illustration: Syndeo and BSZ-GBV Illustration: Jisc Library Hub Discover Illustration: 'Maple Leaves: Discovering Canada' report

We increased the number of regions building library infrastructure on OCLC’s Syndeo®, a flexible suite of services that serves national and regional groups.

The Bibliotheksservice‐Zentrum Baden‐Württemberg (BSZ) and Verbundzentrale des GBV (VZG) announced the launch of a new joint initiative, K10plus. This new collaboration provides the largest catalog in Germany for scientific libraries and is being developed using Syndeo.

We partnered with Jisc to launch the first two National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK) pilot services, discovery and cataloging. The NBK supports the UK higher‐education community and connects to the global library network through WorldCat. By the end of FY19, 104 library collections were loaded.

We are exploring a partnership with the National Institute for Informatics (NII) in Japan to use the Syndeo suite of services to expand NII’s global reach while facilitating library cooperation in its region.

We published the OCLC Research report, Maple Leaves: Discovering Canada through the Published Record. The report combined information from WorldCat and Wikidata to explore Canada’s rich contribution to literature, music, films, and other creative expressions.

Expanding the reach of resource sharing

We marked the 40th anniversary of OCLC resource sharing by expanding our global network of resource sharing libraries and enhancing the WorldShare® Interlibrary Loan platform. We introduced our library on‐demand vision, a user‐first strategy that will enable libraries to offer an unprecedented user experience for the next 40 years.

WorldShare Interlibrary Loan was improved with patron data retention, staff notes, and resubmitting of requests. Our partnership with the National Library of New Zealand was extended with an agreement to provide more than 200 New Zealand libraries with access to WorldShare ILL. And more than 135 libraries, using the official Dutch union catalog and metadata system, transitioned to WorldShare ILL.

The library on‐demand

Icon: Discovery

Intuitive discovery that anticipates and understands context

Icon: Fulfillment

Smart fulfillment that anticipates and understands context

Icon: Universal access

Universal access to a massive inventory of high‐value content

Improving the user experience

Screen: WorldCat Discovery open access content filter

We implemented an open content filter and database recommender in WorldCat® Discovery. The database recommender feature simplifies user access to databases. And the new open access filter helps people quickly find and link to open content.

The increasing importance of open access resources was confirmed in our Global Council survey, detailed below.

Deepening member connections

In FY19, OCLC Global Council selected the focus area of open content and sponsored a global survey on the subject. The survey was a huge success with 705 responses from 82 countries.

OCLC Global Council delegates elected Theresa Byrd, Dean of the University Library, University of San Diego, to the OCLC Board of Trustees.

More than 800 librarians across 52 countries attended one of our three Regional Council Conferences.

Photo: Change the Game logo

Together we share ideas and experiences that dramatically expand the boundaries of librarianship and change the game for the communities we serve.

In the Netherlands, the UK, and Germany, we held Contact Day, Customer Days, Library Leaders Day, and days with consortium partners, reaching more than 700 librarians.

We attended popular conferences, such as ALA Annual and Midwinter, ACRL, the Dutch National Public Library Conference, the UKSG Annual Conference, the CILIP Library Management Systems Showcase, and Bibliothekartag, all of which provided the opportunity to reach thousands of librarians.

We hosted the third annual OCLC Resource Sharing Conference, where more than 300 attendees—from 45 US states, as well as the UK and Canada—met to learn and share creative ways to use OCLC resource sharing services.

Photo: OCLC GLobal Council 2019 Photo: Americas Regional Council 2018 meeting Photo: Asia Pacific Regional Council 2018 meeting Photo: EMEA Regional Council 2019 meeting
Photo: 2018–2019 Board of Trustees

As a nonprofit cooperative, OCLC is governed by a 15‐member Board of Trustees, more than half of whom are librarians. Six members of the Board are chosen by OCLC’s 48‐member Global Council.

2018–2019 Board of Trustees. Seated, left to right: Craig Anderson, Sarah Thomas, John Szabo, Skip Prichard, Barbara Preece, Barbara Lison, Brady Deaton. Standing, left to right: Madeleine Lefebvre, Kathleen Keane, Jim Neal, Bernadette Gray‐Little, Jacques Malschaert, Ginny Steel, Cindy Hilsheimer. Not pictured: John Patrick.

Transforming Technology

Technology is not an end in itself. For libraries, especially, it is a means to connect patrons and students, teachers and researchers to the materials and resources they need to accomplish their unique goals. Whether improving back‐office efficiency for library workers or making materials easier for end users to find and access on the web, OCLC helps transform technology from bits‐and‐bytes into tools for personal and community growth.

Cooperative library data that makes a world of difference

Together, OCLC staff and member libraries grew WorldCat® to 453 million records and 2.8 billion holdings. Other partners helped grow WorldCat, too, with 364 new content collections from 29 providers. We continued to grow the WorldCat knowledge base by loading 1,583 new collections and adding ten new providers. And we partnered with East View Information Services, Springer Nature, and Knovel to automate library holding feeds, registering library collections in WorldCat and delivering WorldCat MARC records via Collection Manager.

Diagram: WorldCat growth in records and holdings

Changing how we work

Diagram: Recent adopters of WorldShare Management Services

The WorldShare® Management Services (WMS) community continued to grow. Libraries in 24 countries are now using WMS as their cloud‐based library services platform. We added more than 200 new enhancements to WMS—70% of which were based on community input.

Among the new community members:

  • In North America, The Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI) selected WMS, and, McGill University, University of Winnipeg, Robert Morris University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and the US Census Bureau went live.
  • In Europe and the Middle East, new WMS members included the United Arab Emirates University, Utrecht University, and the library of AECID (Agencia Española de Cooperación para el Desarrollo). Complutense University of Madrid and the Kore University of Enna went live.
  • In Australia, the Mannix Library signed an agreement to transition to WMS.

We completed the Library and Archives Canada project, a WMS implementation that included a 3.5 million bibliographic record data migration and a French translation of the Analytics/Report Designer interface. We also created new structures of Canadiana Names and Canadian Subject Authority files.

Photo: University of Complutense Madrid student talking to librarian

“Investing in and realizing ongoing information developments at the local level to sustain new services and improve existing ones is not within the reach of most libraries by themselves. [We support] a strategy based on innovation and cooperation, and so we have put our confidence in … WMS.”

Eugenio Tardón
Deputy Director, Complutense University of Madrid
Madrid, Spain

Read the member story

Managing resource sharing in the cloud

Tipasa®, the first cloud‐based interlibrary loan management system, grew to more than 240 libraries live with another 25 committed to Tipasa. The system was enhanced throughout the year with new features, including patron data retention, staff notes, and local catalog and circulation integration.

  • The first Tipasa implementation outside the US was piloted at the University of Gloucestershire Library, which went live on 1 August 2018.
  • All 14 members of the UKB, a consortium of the 13 Dutch university libraries and the Royal Library of the Netherlands, began using Tipasa on 28 January 2019.
  • Four leading academic libraries in New Zealand implemented Tipasa: the University of Canterbury, the University of Waikato, Auckland University of Technology, and the University of Otago.
Illustration: Tipasa smartphone text

Securing the collective collection

Photo: Student in print collection storage

Our groundbreaking work in shared print collections accelerated. GreenGlass®, a web application that allows single libraries to visualize their collections in collective collections, grew globally, as we signed 42 new or extended contracts with institutions such as Minitex, Libraries and Archives Canada, and the Michigan Shared Print Initiative.

In partnership with the Center for Research Libraries, we are developing a registry in WorldCat for library retention commitments for print serials using a $1 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, which was awarded in June 2018. This effort will continue through FY20.

Transforming Knowledge

In FY19, OCLC worked with partners throughout the library profession, within academia, and in related technical fields to explore new trends and topics. Starting with high‐level, strategic thinking, our researchers follow threads that start with the challenges our communities face. Ultimately, we seek to unwind those threads, finding answers to the challenges impacting the work our member libraries do every day, and making a real difference in the lives of the people we serve.

Continued leadership in linked data

Working with 16 institutions, we completed a linked data Wikibase prototype, built to view, edit, and create linked data descriptions and relationships, and to reconcile data between legacy bibliographic information and linked data entities. We published Analysis of 2018 International Linked Data Survey for Implementers to share information about projects or services that format metadata as linked data or make subsequent uses of it.

Illustration: Linked data diagram

Transforming the future of the library

Illustration: Report cover

With Ithaka S+R, we published University Futures, Library Futures: Aligning library strategies with institutional directions, which establishes a new framework for understanding the fit between emerging library service paradigms and university types.

New opportunities with RIM

With euroCRIS, the international organization for research information, we published Practices and Patterns in Research Information Management: Findings from a Global Survey. This report examines how research institutions worldwide are applying research information management (RIM) practices and how libraries are becoming leaders in this important area.

Illustration: Report cover

A celebration of literature and libraries

Illustration: The Library 100 website

The Library 100: Top Novels of All Time is a list of the novels most widely available in libraries today. Using WorldCat, the world’s largest database of library materials, we’ve identified these novels. And while this list recognizes important literature, it also celebrates libraries and their vital role in society.

Scaling learning and library innovation

We were awarded grants from IMLS and the Wikimedia Foundation to:

Illustration: 'Smart' space in a public library

Photo courtesy Hot Springs Library

Illustration: Supercharged Storytimes

We hosted a three‐part webinar series on using library assessment to evaluate and share library impact. The new series brought together research and practice on creating assessments that provide useful, actionable data to show the critical role libraries play in their communities.

We launched a new self‐paced WebJunction® course that teaches libraries how to “supercharge” story time. The new course applies research‐based practices to boost early literacy in young children.

Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) were the focus of this past year’s OCLC Distinguished Seminar Series. Discussions addressed issues of EDI in librarianship and information technology. Hundreds of people attended these presentations, and thousands more viewed the event recordings.

Photos: Distinguished Seminar Series speaker
Photo: 'Smart' space wall in Glenns Ferry Public Library

Photo courtesy Glenns Ferry Public Library

“This opportunity has really made a huge difference in our town and taught me so much. [The space] looks nothing like it did before. It was an honor to be in the project group.”

Jennifer Trail
Director, Glenns Ferry Public Library
Glenns Ferry, Idaho, US

Read “smart space” transformation stories

FY19 Financials

As a library services provider, OCLC is unique. We are a worldwide nonprofit organization that reinvests all of our income into research and development rather than distribute funds or pay dividends to shareholders or business owners. Our goal is to meet the technology needs and service requirements identified by our membership to transform not only libraries but the communities they serve.

Ensuring the future

In FY19, OCLC’s revenues from library services increased by $4.4 million over the previous year. Growth in library subscriptions to WorldShare Management Services in Canada and the Netherlands helped revenues reach $222.0 million. Also contributing to the rise in revenues was our project to build a shared print repository for serials with funding from the Mellon Foundation. In addition, our Contract Cataloging for Publishers service exceeded revenue goals through new contracts with Taylor & Francis, Midwest Tape, EBSCO, and Elsevier.

In May, OCLC signed an agreement to transfer the QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference Cooperative and all active QuestionPoint subscriptions to Springshare, a recognized leader in the development of reference software for libraries worldwide. This sale will benefit members by aligning QuestionPoint users with an organization where reference service is the primary focus.

Accelerated product development for metadata, delivery services, and library management systems will continue to support the cooperative over the next several years. One example of this is the advancement of OCLC Wise, our community engagement system for public libraries. This past year we signed four more early adopters in the US, and we expanded Wise in Europe, taking 33 public libraries in Belgium live—the first libraries outside of the Netherlands to go live.

Net contribution for FY19 was $8.9 million. Revenue from library services and income from our investment portfolio provided a stable cash flow to fund operations, improve services, and make strategic capital investments.

Summary of consolidated activities

Amount in $ millions

FY19 FY18
Operation activities Library services revenue $222.0 $217.6
Operating results before portfolio activity ($2.4) ($6.2)
Investing activities Investment portfolio activity
Dividends and investment income $8.3 $9.2
Net gains/(losses) $5.5 $4.1
Other-than-temporary impairment ($2.5) ($2.5)
Net contribution $8.9 $4.6

The OCLC investment portfolio

Our investment portfolio was valued at $227.9 million at the end of FY19, decreasing from $236.2 million in the prior year. The portfolio decrease was primarily a result of a $10 million principal withdrawal partially offset by capital gains in the overall market. The portfolio also generates dividend and interest income that is withdrawn annually to fund cash needs.

At the end of FY19, OCLC’s outstanding debt was $67.1 million compared to $86.7 million in FY18.

Investment portfolio and debt

Amount in $ millions end of fiscal year

Chart: OCLC FY19 investment portfolio and debt

Research and development

We regularly engage with our membership through Regional and Global Council meetings as well as specific product groups, advisory committees, and research projects in order to identify trends that are shaping the library profession. Based on these conversations, we continue to invest in a variety of specific initiatives that our members have told us are critical to their success.

FY19 research and development expenditures

Total $35.6 million

Chart: OCLC FY19 research and development expenditures

Investment categories include:

Metadata services (12%)

OCLC Cataloging and Metadata Subscription, WorldShare Metadata Services, Contract Cataloging, Dewey® Services, CBS Services

Delivery services (15%)

Tipasa, Sustainable Collection Services, Relais D2D, WorldShare Interlibrary Loan, VDX®, ILLiad, WorldCat Navigator® WorldCat Discovery,™, QuestionPoint®, PiCarta®

Management services (17%)

WorldShare Management Services, WorldShare License Manager, WorldShare Collection Evaluation, WorldShare Report Designer, CONTENTdm®, EZproxy®, SISIS‐SunRise, LBS, Amlib®, BIBLIOTHECAplus, OCLC Wise, OLIB®

Data services (25%)

WorldCat, WorldCat knowledge base, WorldCat Discovery central index

WorldShare Platform (7%)

The infrastructure that supports cloud services

OCLC Research (21%)

Research initiatives

Systems/corporate initiatives (3%)

Data centers, technical infrastructure

For additional information, please visit the following online resources:

The Audit Committee, consisting entirely of independent trustees, assists the Board of Trustees in its oversight of our financial reporting process and is responsible for, among other things, reviewing with BDO USA LLP, independent auditors, the scope and results of its audit engagement.

Year in Photos

Transforming Libraries

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to the cooperative. It was an exciting year. Together, we will continue to transform libraries and the communities we serve.