McGill University

Share work, collections, and knowledge across the institution and beyond

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"Our staff feel like WorldShare Management Services is easier. It's more intuitive, and it's easier to use the system. They didn't need as much training as they thought they might need."

Joseph Hafner
Associate Dean, Collections Development, McGill University Library

McGill Library has used OCLC services, including WorldCat Local and Contract Cataloging, for many years. But the staff grew frustrated with some of the duplication of effort required to maintain records in their classic catalog, especially for e-resources. As a member of the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI), a coalition of Québec universities, McGill joined in the search for a new library system that would meet the group’s needs. “We came together at McGill and decided we really liked what we saw with [WorldShare® Management Services (WMS)],” said McGill’s Associate Dean of Collection Services, Joseph Hafner. “We liked our experience, and we thought that that was the best choice for us.”

The rest of the Québec University Library Partnership selected WMS as a group in March 2019, and McGill went live with WMS in May 2019, right on schedule. “It turned out for [the rest of the group] it was a good choice too,” Joseph said. “A lot of our colleagues in Québec catalog in French … and OCLC had some interesting ways to help them with French name authority files.” Sharing a catalog across BCI helps students and faculty at all these institutions quickly access the information they need, including e-resources. “One library creates an original record on OCLC [WorldCat®], and other people can benefit by using it. That same principle works in the knowledge base,” he said. “So you can have true collaboration with your consortium partners or with people that you don't even have a consortium with.” Libraries also share open-access collections, “so it’s a good tool if you want to add open-access resources to your collection and make them discoverable.”

“OCLC was really great about finding out answers to our specific questions in our McGill context. And if they didn't know, they got back to us. And that really, really helps to reassure people.”

Katherine Hanz, Head of Lending and Access Services, McGill Library

To implement WMS, McGill migrated 85,436 patrons, 64,346 loans, and about 4 million items. And yet, as Head of Lending and Access Services Katherine Hanz explained, “It worked just as planned, and there were no issues.” In addition to dedicated staff and OCLC support, Katherine credits the OCLC sandbox with helping the migration. “It was really important for us to have a test instance to work with. And I think that was one of the things that really helped us in having a smooth transition or a smooth migration to WMS.” Clara Turp, Discovery Systems Librarian, noted that, “A migration is a great opportunity to streamline and rethink things,” and the sandbox helped library staff try new policies and procedures prior to launch, giving them time to adjust. “Even if everything works well, it’s still a big change,” Katherine said.

The ability to customize workflows and share them across the institution is a welcome change for McGill staff. WMS is a “really a great tool for troubleshooting and for finding creative solutions to different problems,” Clara said. “The APIs [have] allowed us to customize… for example, building a webform that creates patron records in WMS.” This way, the work is shared among staff members and “it’s not one person holding all the knowledge. I like that other people can run reports, people can access service configuration, and they don't need programming skills or all of that. That makes it a very democratic system.”

Overall, McGill staff members appreciate that they were able to improve their processes and services while expanding their relationship with OCLC. “OCLC is committed to libraries, is a nonprofit, and works with libraries around the world,” Joseph said. “They've been a good partner for us to be able to do the things that we need to do.” With WMS development and enhancements specifically, “OCLC does the things we would do if we were inventing the system ourselves, but we don’t have the staff to invent it ourselves,” he added. “OCLC has been super great to collaborate with.”


  • Montréal, Québec, Canada

Library at a glance

  • Serves more than 40,000 students in addition to faculty and is the busiest and most crowded spot on campus
  • Offers access to more than 2 million print books, 2 million e-books, and nearly 150,000 print and e-journals
  • Undertaking the Fiat Lux Library Building Project in association with the university’s 200th anniversary to support technology-based learning, digital scholarship, innovation, and collaboration spaces

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