Steadfast commitment to libraries
When I look back at our 2023 fiscal year, I see a year where we faced one of our biggest challenges as a company. We overcame that together and safeguarded WorldCat®, the vital community infrastructure on which tens of thousands of libraries rely. We’ve ensured that WorldCat will continue—now and for years to come—to be the rich resource for libraries and researchers around the world. The actions we took reflect our unwavering investment, development, and defense of WorldCat.
In 2023, I also saw passionate teams at OCLC delivering both transformational and continuous improvements to infrastructure, products, services, and research—all for the benefit of libraries and the communities they serve. This is nothing new. In fact, this level of dedication to libraries is something that drew me to OCLC 10 years ago.
In 2023, we delivered both transformational and continuous improvements to infrastructure, products, services, and research—all for the benefit of libraries and the communities they serve.
And in the past decade, our singular focus to accelerate library innovation, increase their impact, and improve workflow efficiency has only intensified. Our unique position in the market comes with immense responsibility, an obligation we take very seriously. We’ve spent tens of millions of dollars on security, compliance, and systems—from DDoS mitigation tools to global disaster recovery systems to ISO, GDPR, and FedRAMP compliance, all to ensure that we are there when the world’s libraries need us.
We’ve also upgraded WorldCat, which can now support more than 6,500 languages and 135 scripts. At the same time, we’ve expanded our services in regions like Japan, the Middle East, Taiwan, western Europe, Canada, and New Zealand, both to support libraries in these regions and to continue to grow the “globalness” of WorldCat. We supercharged our knowledge base to deliver electronic content to libraries 17 times faster.
Our new products have become the de facto standard in libraries or defined new library services—Choreo Insights™, OCLC Wise®, Digby®, Syndeo®, WorldShare® ILL and smart fulfillment capabilities, and the Express digital delivery program are just a few. We acquired and now provide sustainable investment in companies like Capira, Ifnet, SCS, and HKA. We transformed linked data theory into practice with WorldCat Entities, our web visibility program, and expanded WorldCat’s data structure to support and transform BIBFRAME metadata.
None of that would have been possible but for the work of our world-class teams. We attract top talent because of our mission and because of our focus on inclusivity. We’ve repeatedly received honors for our DEI work, and last year we were named the #1 midsized tech company in the world by ComputerWorld. We are humbled by this recognition, but fiercely proud of the work that our focus on DEI enables. In 2022, for example, we published a seminal piece of research supported by the Mellon Foundation. Reimagine Descriptive Workflows has sparked deep conversation at national and other libraries, and within OCLC. Last year, our bibliographic experts updated tens of thousands of records within hours to remove harmful subject headings. And every year, our metadata specialists enhance tens of millions of additional records in other ways as well ensuring that the utility and value of WorldCat will continue to grow. Aided by groundbreaking machine‐learning models, we match, merge, and deduplicate records at impressive scale and speed. Collectively, this saves OCLC cataloging libraries more than 3 million hours of time each year, time that libraries have reinvested in a dazzling array of new and innovative programs and services that deliver value to the communities they serve.
WorldCat is more than a cataloging utility. It’s the data backbone upon which other services are built—services that help define library offerings for their communities:
- Our resource sharing network—which saves OCLC ILL libraries an estimated combined $150+ million in content acquisition costs every year—delivers unmatched value thanks to the 3.3 billion library holdings that are registered with WorldCat.
- Our Express digital delivery program uses data from our resource sharing network and WorldCat to optimize lender strings and reduce average turnaround times by 50%.
- This year, OCLC Research used WorldCat data as well as information from our resource sharing network to analyze lending patterns and identify opportunities to support data-driven decision-making for library collaboration.
- Hundreds of national libraries, government institutions, and university and college libraries rely on WorldShare® Management Services (WMS), the world’s only library management system holistically built on WorldCat.
- Collections of thousands of libraries are automatically transformed into a linked data schema and discoverable on Google and the open web thanks to WorldCat.
- Innovative new decision support solutions, like Choreo Insights, empower data-driven insights to ensure collections are aligned to institutional goals and priorities.
And our strong financial position ensures that we can continue to make investments on behalf of libraries for years to come.
The report that follows highlights innovations and accomplishments of the past year. It celebrates the efforts of more than a thousand people who work tirelessly to support libraries. There’s a lot to be proud of, and more is on the way:
- Linked data management tools to complement the 150 million linked data authoritative descriptors already available in WorldCat Entities
- A fully upgraded and expanded CONTENTdm® to describe, discover, and support the most special and rare items in library collections
- New capabilities built on AI and large language models that leverage learnings from our AI-enabled recommendation engine in WorldCat.org
- Continued evolution of our consortial resource sharing capabilities
- New community engagement and new business intelligence capabilities for OCLC Wise
- Ongoing expansion of e-resources and open access management solutions
Our work would not be possible without the guidance of our library members and partners. Whether through the Board of Trustees, Global Council, OCLC Community Center, advisory boards, or group or individual conversations, your expertise and perspective inform our work. On behalf of all of us at OCLC, thank you for your support, inspiration, and ongoing engagement.
I also want to thank John Szabo, the City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library, for his service as the Chair of the OCLC Board of Trustees and to welcome Ginny Steel, the Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as the incoming Chair. Both John and Ginny have served on the OCLC Board for several years, and I’m grateful for their continued counsel and leadership on behalf of OCLC and the world’s libraries.
Together, we all make breakthroughs possible.
OCLC President and Chief Executive Officer