OCLC Canada Advisory Council

Minutes — March 24th 2022


Debbie Schachter, Director of Library and Learning Commons
Pilar Martinez, CEO, Edmonton Public Library
May Chan, Head Metadata Services, University of Toronto
Mélanie Dumas
, Directrice, Direction de l'accès à la Collection universelle, BAnQ (replacing Danielle Chagnon, Directrice générale de la Grande Bibliothèque, BAnQ)
Alexandra Freeland,, Director, Library and Information Management Services, National Research Council
Joseph Hafner, Associate Dean, Collection Services, McGill University
Daniel Boivin, Executive Director, OCLC Canada, Latin America & the Caribbean


Renee Reaume, Director, Metadata Services, University of Calgary
Caitlin Horrall, Acting Director, Description Division, Published Heritage Branch, Library & Archives Canada
Bruce Crocco, Vice-President, Library Services for the Americas, OCLC

Submitted Agenda:

  1. Opening of the meeting and agenda approval
  2. Review the minutes of the Fall 2021 Meeting
  3. Sanity check with the members and brainstorming on the Canadian libraries landscape
    • New/revised priorities in light of COVID-19
    • Budget trends, new/revised initiatives
    • Are new library positions / roles being created
    • Exciting projects underway
  4. Discuss Global Council upcoming meeting
  5. Discuss Global Council / Americas Regional Council Elections in April
  6. Dates for next Fall Meeting (Will there be an ARC meeting?)
  7. Other business
  8. End of Conference Call

1. Opening of the meeting and agenda approval

  • The agenda was approved as proposed.

2. Review the minutes of the Fall 2020 Meeting

  • The minutes will be approved “virtually” once Ms. Horrall’s changes submitted a few minutes before the meeting have been applied.  Mr. Boivin will make the changes and share with the Council the revised minutes to be virtually approved (by email).

3. Sanity check with the members and brainstorming on the Canadian libraries landscape

  • Mr. Hafner said that his group at the library is part of a new model, a “work project”, where 50% of them will be back to work next week working one week three days at the office and two days from home.  They following week, they reverse the numbers, i.e. two days in the office and three days at home.  They will be sharing working spaces between groups in the process to free some spaces and to assure some sectors have staff all the time.  They in fact have been sharing office spaces for the past six months.  To ease the transition, he added that they received brand new ergonomic desks and nicer surroundings to work in.  The counterpart to this is that they are “hoteling” their desk and it is not as “easy” as they first thought it would be.   They surveyed staff and they realized that people sit in areas where people they know are.  Consequently, they decided to design “department zones” to facilitate the grouping of colleagues in the same areas.   Currently, all the libraries are opened, and they have kept requiring students to be fully vaccinated to enter but this is ending tomorrow.   Mr. Hafner indicated that they purchased land last year in Valleyfield for their future offsite storage with robotics.  This will break ground in about 1 year from now and they are planning to have about 2 million items in it at the opening.   This is in itself a 3 million dollars project.  This is a big project for the library which will be named after the main donor as this has been the largest donation to the library so far.  This project will allow the library to reallocate space and gain spaces for students, meetings, etc.  They also have a renovation project for their 1969 year old building.  This was built with less students in mind that they currently have so, they need to reorganize this area at the same time.  These are big renovations that will require staff to move temporarily as well, and it is expected to last two to three years. 
  • Ms. Freeland pursued on the same topic to indicate that at the NRC library, they created “neighborhood” to have colleagues from the same areas working together when they take a “free working space” while in the office.   In general, all of the NRC Canada employees are still, for the most part, working remotely.  The library is not driven to reopen to the public as might be public libraries, so they are not that “open” yet.  Currently, they remain focused on service delivery, research and other of their core services. 
  • Ms. Dumas reported that BAnQ is open and have 50% of their staff on site while the other 50% works from home.   She does not think BAnQ will require everybody to be back before May, or even later.  They worked at developing remote working policies in light of all the changes and they are about to review them to be more flexible.   Ms. Dumas also works in the collection department and she stated that the situation is still a bit of a challenge for them as it is hard to make the documents quickly available to their users.   The Grande bibliothèque has been running various consultations since the fall with the objective to evolve and adapt their services to today’s demand.  They should have completed these consultations and the writing of their findings by the beginning of summer. 
  • At EPL, Ms. Martinez reported seeing more users coming to the library than in past weeks.  They have their in-person programming starting next week, on-time for the spring break in Alberta.   They recently opened “The Kitchen” which is a culinary learning offering to individuals with limited access to the Internet.  This is a popular initiative.  At EPL, a small number of employees are working remotely.   However, they will be piloting a hybrid model, a bit like the one at McGill University with alternating schedule, starting April 4th.   Of course, they plan to be looking at reallocating spaces to the public if some offices become vacant.  The EPL may also explore an “App” to remotely book workspaces.  On the other hand, they are experiencing increased issues related with security and safety (Opioid, damaged property, etc.).   The city is closing temporary shelters and the housing demand has increased by 2000 people.  The situation could become challenging in the city and possibly at the library.   Ms. Martinez indicated that the general patron behavior has been evolving from various library visitors and is becoming a concern.
  • Ms. Schachter shared that she recently was appointed to another position, in addition to her current position.  Langara College was fully back on campus in the fall and the library was open since then.  Sixty percent of the personnel is on site and the other forty percent is online.  They are still on this hybrid model.   She indicated that the College has no residences and that might have facilitated the faster return on campus.  Academic institutions in BC received more funding this past fiscal year from the ministry to help the higher education market and libraries did get some of that support as well which was for the most part used for online resources/services.  The Langara College library is now trying to maintain these online resources and need the proper funding approval to do so.  They should know soon about this.  Ms. Schachter reported that the province has seen a decline in students’ registration, but the drop is not too dramatic.
  • Ms Chan reported that with COVID and staff working from home during the pandemic has generated a huge backlog for the library.  They are hiring additional staff to help but this remains a challenge for them.   Before COVID, they relied on students to help but this is not sufficient now and not an ideal model.  She is unsure if the new FY will have the budget to maintain these temporary helps in place to continue dealing with the backlog.   Outsourcing could be an option but that too requires time and staff to manage.  They are also working at optimizing the ALMA platform and they are barcoding everything which is a major shift at U of T.  This step is now needed for inventory purposes more than for circulating items and this needs to be explained as not everybody seems to realize the need and why this is done.  Ms. Chan has been working very hard for the past weeks and some of that “extra” work is generated by reaching the end of their FY as well.   They also recently completed their focus group on “Indigenous students experience at the library” (space, services, collections, signage, etc.).  They had 7 students signed up for this survey and they ran two hours meeting with them.  She expects publishing an article out of this local research.   They are also working on a “Shared print initiative” and the renovation of the Robarts Library commons is coming to completion.   The slowing down due to COVID helped completing the project. 
  • Mr. Hafner completed in indicating that at the same time, BCI has its own project for the 18 universities.  They too are focusing on Canadiana.   

4. Discuss Global Council upcoming meeting

  • The agenda mostly had business items pertaining to the management of Global Council only so the discussion quickly moved on to the next point.

5. Global Council / Americas Regional Council Elections

  • Mr. Boivin reported that Ms. Martinez was ending her two terms on Global Council this coming October 30th and that Ms. Chan was ending her first term.  Ms. Chan will need to run for election again if she intends to stay and it appears that she will run again.  That being said, Mr. Boivin indicated that if the delegates could promote the upcoming election and approach individuals they thought could be good candidates to do so to assure enough Canadian representation on Global and the America’s Councils.  Ms. Chan proposed to approach Ms. Trish Mau, Assistant Director from Burnaby Public Library.  She feels she would be an excellent candidate.  Additionally, Ms. Dumas proposed to approach Asa Kachan, CEO of the Halifax Public Library.

6. Dates for next Fall Meeting

  • A Doodle will be submitted by Mr. Boivin to establish the next meeting date.

7. Other business

  • Closing remarks:
    • Ms Schachter indicated that the OCLC Board of Trustees should be meeting in person this coming June in Montreal.  This in-person meeting for the Board had been postponed for the past two years due to COVID.
    • OCAC reached the 20 years mark this past January, 2022.
    • No other business was raised.

8. End of the meeting

  • At 14h Eastern Time.
Actions required before the next meeting Responsibility
  1. Update the fall 2021 minutes to insert newly submitted changes and obtain approval by email.
Daniel Boivin
  1. Send a Doodle for the fall meeting/conference call.
Daniel Boivin