DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 8 June 2007—OCLC Members Council met May 20-22 in Dublin, Ohio, to discuss the values of the cooperative and how well the OCLC governance structure, products and services are meeting the current and future needs of its members.
Members Council also elected new leaders for the next session, and bid farewell to a senior OCLC manager who participated in 80 Members Council meetings before her retirement this month.
A fresh look at governance
Betsy Wilson, Chair, OCLC Board of Trustees, and Dean of University Libraries, University of Washington, provided an update on the governance study the Board authorized at its February 2007 meeting.
"The purpose of this new study is to ensure that OCLC, as an organization, can successfully meet the current and emerging needs of libraries and other cultural heritage organizations around the world," said Ms. Wilson.
The OCLC governance structure was established in 1977 and was last reviewed and revised in 2000. That process led to changes such as adding more delegates from outside the United States, and moving Members Council further upstream in consideration of changes in the needs and interests of the community.
Bill Crowe, Chair of the Governance Committee, OCLC Board member and Spencer Librarian, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, noted that the study has an "ambitious" timeline, with recommendations expected back to the Board in November. There will be extensive discussion of the study and its recommendations at the October 2007 and February 2008 Members Council meetings. Mr. Crowe also introduced consultants hired to facilitate the study.
Values and the cooperative
"Values are an important underpinning of any governance structure," said Tammi Spayde, Vice President, OCLC Human Resources, as she led the opening general session round-table discussion on "Values of the OCLC Cooperative." The session was designed to urge delegates to consider specific values and principles upon which the OCLC cooperative should be based to meet OCLC member needs.
"OCLC's mission and corporate objectives have remained the same since (OCLC Founder) Fred Kilgour set them down nearly 40 years ago in 1967," said Jay Jordan, OCLC President and CEO. "In the computer and information industry, 40 years is a long time. Yet, the basic objectives of OCLC—to further access to information and reduce costs for libraries—have served the cooperative well."
While much has remained the same, Mr. Jordan pointed to many of the changes—from new technologies, to new opportunities for growth around the world—that have made it necessary for OCLC to change. When he was named OCLC President in 1998, 963 public libraries were OCLC members. Today, there are 2,106. In 1998 there were 156 school libraries; today, 793 school libraries are OCLC members. And in 1998 there were two Members Council delegates representing regions outside the United States. Today, there are 13.
"OCLC has been fortunate throughout its history to have dedicated and knowledgeable leaders serving on its Members Council and Board of Trustees," said Mr. Jordan. "As we go forward, OCLC's governance structure will play a critical role in shaping the future. We need to make it easier for people like you to participate in the governance of a cooperative that now extends across most time zones of the world."
OCLC services and strategy
Lorcan Dempsey, Vice President, OCLC Programs and Research and Chief Strategist, provided a brief outline of OCLC's strategy going forward. He stressed the importance of providing library services at the network level, giving users the option to move seamlessly from local, to group, to global resources.
"The network has become central enough to what people do that it is not an exaggeration to say this is where people live. It is certainly the place where they get things done. This means increasingly that support for workflow must be available within the network environment. It's not just in individual Web sites; it's how those Web sites work together to help users get things done," said Mr. Dempsey.
Mr. Dempsey noted that libraries have complicated systems environments. The integrated library system is bolted on to the catalog at the front, electronic resources and knowledge bases are evolving to help manage licensed materials, and metasearch engines, resolvers and other databases result in a potentially confusing and frustrating array of options that users would prefer not to have to navigate.
He suggested a solution is to simplify by moving library services to the network level to meet people in their workflow—at their point of need. He also said it is important that libraries create a Web-scale experience—"a library experience which matches the experience of the Web," said Mr. Dempsey.
"OCLC is uniquely placed to move library operations to the network level and simultaneously deliver the value of the network back to the library through local solutions," said Mr. Dempsey. "So we want to create a Web-scale library presence. In doing so, lasting value is created through increasing the visibility and impact of libraries, creating system-wide efficiencies, and leveraging a compelling Web-scale library resource globally. This is very consistent with the founding goals of OCLC."
Robin Murray, Vice President, OCLC Global Product Management, offered plans to move Mr. Dempsey's strategy to execution. He added to some of Mr. Dempsey's thoughts on building on local, group and global levels of service.
"OCLC's key strength is our global presence," said Mr. Murray. "We have to provide the most compelling Web-scale presence for libraries. And we should also help others do the same. We should provide services from our data, from our common components, to help others build high-value services for libraries. Syndicating our services to others so that they can generate high quality services is very important if we are to build Web scale."
Mr. Murray also suggested that libraries simplify their systems to enhance the user experience. "Let's use network effects to reduce the costs and increase the efficiency of library management," he said.
Chip Nilges, Vice President, OCLC Business Development, brought delegates up to date on plans for WorldCat.org. "The goal of WorldCat.org is and always has been to deliver the full capacity of the library community to the user at the point of need," said Mr. Nilges.
He described "the full capacity of the library community" as physical collections, digital collections, special collections, institutional content and public domain Web content.
"WorldCat.org is a library network that connects users with library capacity through thousands of Web sites, tens of thousands of library sites, and of course, through the WorldCat.org site," said Mr. Nilges. "I think we're beginning to see that these things are symbiotic, mutually reinforcing and together form a discovery and delivery network that can help to build a very strong community brand."
Greg Zick, Vice President, OCLC Digital Collection Services, provided an overview of institutional repositories, outlined challenges to creating a successful repository, and made suggestions for the future. "Institutional repository experiences and studies facilitate informed choices about where you can go next—the next generation," he said. "Library leadership is the key to future success when you leverage your strengths. And the tools and services have evolved to support digital repositories. The problem is not technology anymore."
Mr. Zick shared the OCLC Digital Collection Services mission: to offer products and services that build a digital repository within the OCLC cooperative; enable the creation of digital repositories; provide long-term archiving of high-resolution materials; and work with digital library leaders to develop and evolve new and best practices for digital collections.
Reports and resolutions
Pat Wilkinson, Chair, Task Force on E-Book Integration, and Director, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Forrest R. Polk Library, reported on key observations and questions for OCLC Members Council to consider, including:
- OCLC's interest in electronic books extends beyond its interest in NetLibrary. Its efforts in eContent Synchronization are important and should be encouraged.
- WorldCat is in a unique position to become the portal of choice for the discovery of all eBooks made available through mass digitization projects.
- The synchronization of WorldCat with international mass digitization projects, as part of OCLC's global initiatives, should be a high priority.
Cathy De Rosa, OCLC Vice President of the Americas & Global Vice President, OCLC Marketing, provided a sneak preview of the next OCLC membership report, Privacy, Trust and Sharing in Our Networked World. The report is expected to be released in the third quarter of this year.
The practice of using a social network to establish and enhance relationships based on some common ground—shared interests, related skills, or a common geographic location—is as old as human societies, but social networking has flourished due to the ease of connecting on the Web. The report will explore this web of social participation and cooperation on the Internet and how it may impact the library's role in the public sphere, including:
- An overview of social networking and social media Web sites.
- Evaluation of the behaviors, values and expectations of participants.
- Review of related privacy and trust issues.
A survey conducted in six countries—Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States—by Harris Interactive on behalf of OCLC will inform the report's examination. The purpose of the research is twofold: to assist librarians in understanding the values and social-networking habits of the people they serve; and to present the origins and history of "privacy" as a core professional value in librarianship.
Delegates and OCLC staff had an opportunity to hear a presentation from Ellen Tise, Senior Library Director, University of Stellenbosch and Members Council delegate, and John Tsebe, National Librarian and CEO, National Library of South Africa, at the conclusion of the Members Council meeting. "South African Libraries: Then and Now!" provided a brief history and a hopeful outlook for South African libraries. Both representatives encouraged OCLC staff and Members Council delegates to visit South Africa for the upcoming IFLA Annual Conference, August 19-23, in Durban.
At the conclusion of the meeting, OCLC Members Council President Ernie Ingles, Vice-Provost and Chief Librarian, University of Alberta, OCLC Canada, passed the gavel to Sandy Yee, Dean of Libraries, Wayne State University, MLC, who will serve as Members Council President for 2007/2008.
Council also elected leaders for the 2007/2008 Members Council session. Loretta Parham, CEO and Library Director, Robert W. Woodruff Library of theAtlanta University Center (Clark Atlanta University, Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, Spelman College), representing SOLINET, was elected Vice President/President-Elect.
Newly-elected delegates-at-large are:
- Berndt Dugall, Direktor/Librarian, Universität Frankfurt, Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg, (OCLC PICA)
- Jamie LaRue, Director, Douglas County (Colorado) Libraries (BCR)
- Lyn McKinney, OCLC Western, Head Librarian, Billings Public Schools, Billings Senior High School Library (OCLC Western)
- Jennifer Younger, Director of University Libraries, University of Notre Dame, Edward H. Arnold Library (INCOLSA)
Members Council also passed a resolution honoring Phyllis B. Spies, Vice President, OCLC Collection Management Service, who is retiring this month.
The resolution read, in part, "Phyllis has provided outstanding service and executive leadership to the global library collaborative for more than 30 years. She has contributed many significant accomplishments to the cooperative in local systems, sales, WorldCat and Collection Management, and library services in nearly every corner of the world. And she has participated in more than 80 Members Council meetings in an official capacity."
"Members Council expresses its profound gratitude to Phyllis Spies for her inspiring leadership, and Council wishes her and her husband John the very best in their transition to retirement."
A reception for Ms. Spies followed the Members Council meeting adjournment.
The next OCLC Members Council meeting will be October 21-23, 2007, in Dublin, Ohio.
About Members Council
The 66-delegate Members Council supports OCLC's mission by serving as the key discussion forum and communications link between member libraries, regional networks and other partners, and OCLC management. By providing a channel for recommendations and questions from Members Council delegates, approving changes in the Code of Regulations, and electing six members of the Board of Trustees, Members Council helps shape the future direction of OCLC.
Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit organization that has provided computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing, e-content and preservation services to 57,000 libraries in 112 countries and territories. For more information, visit www.oclc.org.