Lessons on building community while building the new OCLC Community Center

Next blog banner for post on OCLC community center update. Six icons representing features of the community center are shown.

If you participate in the OCLC Community Center, you’ll know it’s recently had a major upgrade. We’re happy with the results and excited about the possibilities ahead. But getting to this point wasn’t easy. It’s been a long road. And like many large-scale tech projects, the takeaways go well beyond the new software.

Every twist and turn offered lessons about how to better create valuable content and meaningful connections with our users. The truth is, we learned a lot more than ever expected about building community. And we’re hoping our experience can provide insights that inspire and inform your work to connect and engage with the communities you serve.

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Expand horizons with diversity and inclusion

I shared earlier this month that we were once again ranked first in Computerworld’s “Best Places to Work in IT.” Among midsize companies globally, we’re in the top ten for IT growth and in the top position for benefits and diversity strategy programs. By focusing on technology, staff, and diversity, we can deliver better results for OCLC member libraries.

In my last post, I shared how our focus on technology and staff enables us to continuously innovate and more than occasionally transform how libraries work and serve their users. Now I’d like to talk a bit more about how nurturing an inclusive and diverse culture takes us even further.

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Celebrating excellence: How being the “Best Place to Work in IT” elevates library services

I’m delighted to share that OCLC has once more earned the top spot on Computerworld’s “Best Place to Work in IT” among midsize global organizations. Such distinction matters. This isn’t just an accolade for our team—it’s an affirmation of the vibrant culture, innovative spirit, and unwavering dedication we share with the library community.

You may be pondering, “What does this mean for me?” Let’s unpack the myriad ways this workplace recognition directly enriches your library’s experience.

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Benefits of prioritizing proactivity

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The difference between being proactive and reactive has been swirling for me recently. It can feel empowering to be able to get ahead of something instead of having to respond in the moment. By prioritizing proactive measures—including training—we can create a more stable and sustainable future for our organizations and the communities we serve. And hopefully, minimize stress for ourselves, our staff, and our stakeholders.

Helping library workers do just that was part of the motivation for our recent update to the REALM project, an effort funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and led by OCLC.

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Co-create authentically with your community

Co-creation is one of the most effective ways for libraries to turn diversity, equity, and inclusion ideals into real-world services. Fundamentally, co-creation happens when the people who are most impacted by a service or program take the lead in developing and implementing it. It requires intentional time and resources around supporting the aspirations of systematically excluded communities. And these communities, not the library, determine what goals a project should reach for, what success looks like, and what actions are most likely to lead to that success.

To get started with or deepen partnerships for greater equity, consider three important elements of a co-creative approach.

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Four ways WorldCat.org improves library visibility

Just over a year ago, I wrote about how the new WorldCat.org expands the impact of libraries everywhere. I went on to say (with no hesitation) that the redesign and rebuild had been the highlight of my career. Well, I’ve changed my mind.

Over the past year, we’ve seen how well the site helps people find the information they need in libraries. There’s encouraging data about improved reach, utility, and accessibility. But most of all, we view the launch of the redesigned site not as a “job completed,” but as inspiration to do even more.

So, what’s the new highlight of my career? The ability of WorldCat.org to serve as an ongoing, growing, centralized platform for library discovery.

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Libraries and open access discovery

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Co-author: Titia van der Werf

The theme of this year’s Open Access Week is “Community over Commercialization.” It’s designed to “encourage a candid conversation about which approaches to open scholarship prioritize the best interests of the public and the academic community—and which do not.”

This is an important theme for OCLC. As a membership organization that doesn’t return profit to shareholders or private owners, our sole focus is on supporting libraries. This means that finding ways for libraries to provide better access to open content is a priority. One effort underway right now is the Open Access Discovery project in partnership with two Dutch library consortia—Universiteitbibliotheken en Nationale Bibliotheek (UKB) and Samenwerkingsverband Hogeschoolbibliotheken (SHB).

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Redefining the library experience: Global insights for future planning

Libraries are no stranger to change. As community expectations shift, so do our libraries. This adaptability was on full display during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But as that pressure has subsided, we’re seeing widespread reflection around what libraries will look like in the future. Many library leaders are thinking about fundamental transformations, with the goal of creating a more impactful library experience for their users.

During the past year, OCLC Global Council and OCLC Research explored the idea of the changing library experience by focusing on topics such as community engagement, collaboration, and innovative programs that meet library users’ evolving needs and expectations. Planning for this work was informed by efforts associated with our New Model Library: Pandemic Effects and Library Directions research. And it was accomplished through online thought leadership webinars and a global survey that spanned all library sizes and types. What we learned is that libraries will continue to be necessary infrastructure for supporting local communities. And to deliver impact, there’s increasing need for

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WebJunction, an evolution in library staff learning

WebJunction 20 Year Anniversary graphic

WebJunction is, first and foremost, the learning place for libraries. But what makes it special is our approach: We’re committed to listening, collaborating, and doing our own learning, too. It shows in how we’ve evolved over the past 20 years with projects—big and small—that truly reflect the library landscape and provide new ways of learning for all levels of staff.

What started in 2003 as a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that focused on helping library staff be more effective in offering public access computing has developed to include content reflecting all aspects of library learning needs. The WebJunction team is a vibrant group within OCLC Research, and our 20-year journey has produced significant contributions with and for the library community. We make learning practical and flexible, allowing individuals to modify and customize their experience to meet local needs. This has resulted in successful learning models that are both inclusive and actionable.

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