OCLC Users Council discusses model partnerships, elects executive committee members

DUBLIN, Ohio, June 10, 1997--The OCLC Users Council met May 18-20 in Dublin to discuss model partnerships, to elect new executive committee members for the 1997/98 fiscal year and to hear updates from OCLC staff. The meeting focused on "Model Partnerships: Information Producers, Libraries and OCLC." It was the last of three under the 1996/97 general program theme of "Model Partnerships: Building the Electronic Library." Users Council president Victoria Hanawalt presided.

Delegates elected new members to the Users Council Executive Committee for 1997/98. Brad Baker, university librarian/director of Media Services, Northeastern Illinois University, is the new vice president/president-elect. New delegates-at-large are Dan Iddings, assistant director, Networked and Automated Services, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; Ed Meachen, associate vice chancellor for Information Services, Library/Learning Center, University of Wisconsin-Parkside; and Lizabeth Wilson, associate director of libraries, University of Washington. At the conclusion of the meeting, Victoria Hanawalt, 1996/97 Users Council president and college librarian at Reed College, Portland, Oregon, passed the gavel to Merryll Penson, director, Columbus State University Library (Georgia), who will serve as Users Council president for the 1997/98 fiscal year.

Delegates voted unanimously to enact changes to Users Council Bylaws, which will strengthen the process whereby the nominating committee prepares a slate of candidates for Users Council leadership positions.

In his OCLC President's Report, K. Wayne Smith updated delegates on OCLC's progress in its three priority areas of building a new core business in reference services, enhancing OCLC's cataloging and resource sharing systems, and expanding internationally. He also reported on OCLC's upcoming field test of its new TCP/IP telecommunications network and the OCLC Workstation Replacement Program, which helps member libraries replace their older workstations with new, state-of-the-art models. In a discussion of OCLC's pricing trends, he noted that since 1990 OCLC has provided member libraries with some $45 million in subsidies, credits and price reductions in telecommunications, cataloging and resource sharing.

Sarah Long, system director, North Suburban Library System (NSLS), and Owen Youngman, director, Interactive Media, Chicago Tribune, discussed the joint information project between their two organizations. The NSLS's NorthStarNet [www.nsn.org] and the Tribune's Digital City [digitalcity.com] are interlinked, and each has benefited from its association with the other--NorthStarNet has received funding and promotion from the Tribune, and Digital City has received local content from NSLS libraries and communities.

"Newspapers and libraries have a lot in common," said Ms. Long. "We both are essentially 19th century institutions. We are both very much based around the printing press. We both like to think that we're in the information business rather than the entertainment business. And we both are very interested in local information."

Jerry Campbell, chief information officer and dean of the University Libraries at the University of Southern California, spoke on "Libraries and Publishing: Watershed Changes and New Wrinkles in an Historic Partnership." He said the future relationships of libraries and publishing may be determined by a precipitating event, such as the uncoupling of the credentialing process from publishing in higher education. Other events that might create new needs and opportunities for libraries include a shift in the value spectrum of library materials; a redefinition of publishing and publication; a rise in lifelong learning; a shift within universities to a more commercial model; the expansion of distance learning and virtual universities; and "getting beyond human-created metadata."

"Whoever acts will create the future," said Mr. Campbell. "Imagine the future you want and make it real."

"Libraries, for all the right reasons, have been very slow to take action and very good at building consensus before taking action," he said. "We've been good at standards, and while that should continue to be viewed as a high good for our community, we are at a particular moment where we need trials and successes in order to improve the future. And those can't be done in the same way we've operated most of our communal authority the past 45 years."

Wayne Kelley, superintendent of documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, delivered a presentation on "U.S. Government Documents and Electronic Publishing." He described some of the difficulties and threats--such as the lack of preservation for digital information--associated with the increasing use of digitized documents for the distribution of government information. He said there is a long history of efforts to keep information in the public domain, but today we are drifting away from that ideal.

"We have a new era," said Mr. Kelley. "Let's make sure we don't lose the valuable pool of information the government provides."

Users Council delegates break into small groups at each meeting to discuss current issues and trends. Tom Leonhardt, coordinator, Electronic Information Resources, University of Oklahoma Libraries, summarized the type-of-library small-group discussions, noting that delegates stressed the importance of OCLC's involvement in the digitization of local materials, special collections and archives, and that partnerships with information producers and plug-and-play products will assist libraries in accomplishing their institutional missions.

Liz Bishoff, vice president, OCLC Member Services, gave delegates an update on OCLC's recent general activities and answered questions.

John Barnes, director, OCLC Electronic Publishing, briefed delegates on "OCLC's Role and its Partnerships with Information Producers."

Stuart Weibel, senior research scientist, OCLC Office of Research and Special Projects, spoke on "Metadata and OCLC."

The next OCLC Users Council meeting will be held Oct. 5-7, 1997, in Dublin. Minutes from OCLC Users Council meetings, from October 1990 through the January 1997 meeting, are available on the Internet. Minutes from the May 1997 meeting will be available by July 1.

To receive meeting minutes via the Internet, send a message to listserv@oclc.org. Commands should be typed on separated lines in the body of the message, not in the subject line. Enter the command "index uc" to receive the index of archived minutes. Enter "get minutes.[monthyear]" for the desired meeting minutes. For example, enter the command "get minutes.jan97" to receive a copy of the January 1997 Users Council meeting minutes.

The Users Council comprises librarians from networks and other partners whose contributions to WorldCat (the OCLC Online Union Catalog) qualify them for membership. Representing the various interests of OCLC member libraries, delegates ratify amendments to the Code of Regulations and advise OCLC on strategic direction.

OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization whose computer network and services link more than 24,000 libraries in 63 countries and territories [www.oclc.org].