OCLC Users Council discusses service integration and the values of cooperation at October meeting

DUBLIN, Ohio, Oct. 24, 1997--The OCLC Users Council focused on "Integrate: Valuing Collaboration and Cooperation" at its Oct. 5-7 meeting in Dublin. The topic was derived from the first of the Four I's in OCLC's new strategic plan, to integrate and enhance all OCLC services by providing easy and seamless access to information. It was the first meeting under the 1997/98 program, "Integrate, Innovate, Internationalize and Inform: Affirming OCLC Membership Values while Implementing New Strategic Directions."

According to Users Council president Merryll Penson, associate university librarian for public services, University of Georgia, the program goal for the 1997/98 Users Council is to discuss the value to libraries of OCLC as a membership organization in the context of OCLC's strategic directions and product development. "We want to explore how libraries and OCLC can work together to ensure integration and system interoperabilty," she said.

In his report to delegates in the opening session, K. Wayne Smith, OCLC president and CEO, said, "The key for OCLC will be to continue to find innovative ways to enhance the value of OCLC membership and to reinforce the old-fashioned values of library cooperation and working together for the common good, an approach that has kept this unique and important enterprise viable for 30 years."

Dr. Smith also announced to the delegates that he will step down from day-to-day management of OCLC in June 1998. In its closing session, Users Council delegates unanimously adopted a resolution honoring Dr. Smith and expressing "its deep appreciation and thanks for his many contributions to and accomplishments on behalf of the world's libraries."

Leo Voogt, secretary general of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), addressed delegates on the "Values and Benefits of International Cooperation."

"Over the past few years, I have come to see OCLC as more than a North American or European operation," said Mr. Voogt. "Indeed, OCLC now needs to be recognized as a global player." Using the letters "OCLC," Mr. Voogt characterized the value of international cooperation as "Opportunity-driven, Communications-based, Learning-based and Coalition-building."

Betsy Wilson, associate director of libraries for public services, University of Washington, moderated a panel discussion on "Challenges and Opportunities in Integrating Local Systems and OCLC Services." Panelists were Bernie Hurley, chief scientist, University of California-Berkeley Libraries; Jerry Kline, owner and president, Innovative Interfaces Inc.; and Georgia Brown, vice president, OCLC Product Development.

Donald J. Muccino, OCLC executive vice president and chief operating officer, discussed OCLC's plans to integrate and enhance its services to provide libraries with cost-effective solutions at key points in the flow of information from publisher to library to end user.

The meeting also featured a two-part presentation on "Telecommunications: the Ties that Bind" by Larry Learn, director of OCLC Telecommunications Planning, and Stuart Lynn, associate vice president for Information Resources and Communications, University of California Office of the President.

Mr. Learn updated delegates on "What's Up in the Telecommunications Industry?" He focused on items of particular interest to libraries--such as universal service, filtering and telecommunications costs for schools and libraries--which have become issues for the Federal Communications Commission in the implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Mr. Lynn talked about "Internet2: The Vision and the Progress." He described communication and educational benefits he believes will come from the deployment of enhanced telecommunications. In addition, he pointed out the emerging need in libraries for faster, more robust networking capabilities. "In one sense, we can do a lot with digital libraries today [over the existing Internet]," he said, "but I'm not sure that your patrons are going to want to wait and wait and wait for the content to come over the network."

At each meeting, Users Council delegates break into small groups to discuss current issues and trends. David Cohen, associate provost and dean of libraries, College of Charleston (South Carolina), summarized the small group discussions by saying that, as stated in OCLC's updated strategic plan, the goal of integration is to free the information user from the "tyranny of compartmentalization." He said that emerging trends include the growing importance of consortia, an increasingly sophisticated user living in the world of the Web, closer relationships between libraries and computing centers, a renewed appreciation for standards, and the need to economize. Barriers to integration are technical requirements, people and money.

Liz Bishoff, vice president, OCLC Member Services, updated delegates on recent milestones at OCLC, as well as on product and service developments.

Rick Schwieterman, vice president, OCLC Finance and Human Resources, provided an update on OCLC's financial status.

Terry Noreault, director of the OCLC Office of Research and Special Projects, reported on current research projects, including adding resource classification information to Web resources, placing Library of Congress Subject Headings in Dewey, and an experimental digital library.

The next OCLC Users Council meeting will be held Feb. 8-10, 1998, on the topic "Innovate and Inform: Libraries and the Value of Learning." Minutes from OCLC Users Council meetings, from October 1990 through the May 1997 meeting, are available on the Internet. Minutes from the October 1997 meeting will be available by Nov. 1.

To receive meeting minutes via the Internet, send a message to listserv@oclc.org. Commands should be typed on separate 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.oct97 to receive a copy of the October 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 computernetwork and services link more 25,000 libraries in 63 countries and territories www.oclc.org.