How “Shark Tank for kids” survived the pandemic

Back in 2017, my colleagues and I at the Orange County Library System were brainstorming new community engagement ideas to support our children’s programming. That summer, the TV show Shark Tank was massively popular in our area—and not just with adults. We already had our “BizKids Camps” programming over the summer, and a staff member suggested we go an extra step and add a real, live business fair.

So, that’s exactly what we did. Our Orlando Children’s Business Fair offers students a platform to launch their businesses, promote their services or products, and build marketing strategies. The fair was very successful for three years running, until COVID-19 hit. While we could not produce a live fair in 2020, that didn’t stop us from continuing to build momentum by creating a new virtual experience to encourage youth entrepreneurship.

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Racial and social justice: A blueprint for constructive conversations

Issues of racial and social justice impact all facets of our communities, and therefore, all our libraries. As we continue to look for ways to increase racial and cultural equity, we are buoyed by our activist efforts to support privacy, equitable access, and intellectual freedom, and sobered by the realization that our histories and the ground upon which they have been built have not always demonstrated support of equity, diversity, and inclusion. It is critical that global libraries engage in ongoing discussions to surface concerns, share insights, and help lead our community efforts.

During a recent OCLC Global Council roundtable, we used a structured discussion format to share perspectives and gather insights around current environments, library reactions, and what our responsibilities as libraries should be going forward. We didn’t come up with all the answers, but the discussion was rich and informative.

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How teamwork busts the three biggest myths about library advocacy

Stephen Wyber

Many people associate advocacy with lobbying—a full-time job in which one cultivates personal relationships with lawmakers and officials to make or defend key lines in laws, regulations, budgets, and other decisions.

To many who work in libraries, this can seem daunting. However, as is usually the case with stereotypes, this one is far from accurate. I’d like to make the case that there are three “big myths” about library advocacy that you need to jettison right now.

This matters, because in reality, budget increases and policy changes are usually the end product of a long process of changing minds and attitudes that starts well away from national legislatures, county councils, or town halls. These earlier steps require teamwork, and can rely on efforts made by all types of library workers with a variety of skills and interests to contribute. By understanding how you can contribute, you can start advocating for your library—and all libraries—today and every day.

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Mitigate cybersecurity threats with training

Anthony Fisic

Computer and internet technologies have brought valuable opportunities and efficiencies to the library and education fields. Unfortunately, this kind of innovation often also brings challenges, especially with security. And although every organization tackles cybersecurity differently, there’s one common denominator. When it comes to security, everyone in your organization plays a role—often a critical one.

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Stronger together: Libraries focus on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Lorely Ambriz

As I’ve spent more time working with OCLC’s Global and Regional Councils, I’ve come to an agreeable realization that’s maybe a bit of a paradox. The wider our professional networks become, the more likely we’ll find faraway colleagues whose local solutions fit our situations. Sometimes the best answers don’t come from next door, but from across the globe.

It’s not a surprise, actually, so much as a challenge. There just aren’t a lot of mechanisms for sharing great ideas across library types and geographies. But this year, I’m pleased that we’re bringing two great platforms together—OCLC Global Council and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—to help libraries around the world promote and improve their best ideas.

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Make your library a hub for open access content

The library that I am entrusted to manage, the Open Access Digital Theological Library (OADTL), has a clear mission. We aim to make high-quality, open access content in religious studies discoverable to the global community through a single, curated search experience. Even though it may seem like an unreachable goal, I bet you could write a similar mission for your institution.

Fill in the blank:

Our library is committed to making high-quality, open access content in [our area of expertise] discoverable to the global community through a single, curated search experience.

Feels good to imagine, doesn’t it? Well, I’m here to tell you how you can accomplish that goal with very little overhead cost and no increase in staff.

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Time-traveling librarians, shared print, and being excellent to each other

Matt Barnes

There’s a scene in the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure where they lament that they need some keys that were lost two days earlier. But because they have a time machine, they can just wait until later, go back in time before they’re lost, and leave them right next to where they are “now” for convenience.

It’s funny, of course. But also, kind of … smart. It shows that if you can count on someone doing something in the future, you can make current plans based on that knowledge. The trick is, each of us has to know what the other is planning.

Bill and Ted can rely on a future (and past) version of themselves to complete their plans. Library staff have to rely on shared data and common, agreed-upon signals across our collective collection.

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The Wikipedia research conundrum: Is it citable?

Chris Cyr, Ph.D.

There is a disconnect between how students are taught to use Wikipedia and the way that they actually use it. The notion of an encyclopedia that anyone can edit has led teachers to warn that Wikipedia is unreliable and should never be used or cited as a source of serious research. In reality, most of us use Wikipedia all the time in our research. Defenders of Wikipedia’s contribution model even point out that democratization of contribution is beneficial and necessary for the level of breadth, depth, and reliability it has achieved. If Wikipedia’s open contribution model doesn’t stop researchers from using it, why are students taught to avoid it?

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Three ways mobile app technology increases community engagement

Scott Livingston

As I’ve pulled together notes for this post, 15 alerts have flashed across my smartphone screen. That’s to be expected since we log 5.4 hours a day on our phones. And most of that time—90 percent to be exact—is spent using apps. That begs an important question: How can we use this app time to promote library goals and engage our communities in ways that put the library in the life of the user?

One important step? Simply get more library apps into the hands of users, a goal that we are pursuing quickly—and globally—now that Capira Technologies has joined the OCLC family.

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Global library discovery and fulfillment: How we’re the same, and how we differ

Helene Blowers

When we presented last year’s Global Council report on access to open content, we got a lot of great feedback. Both from Council delegates—who reported that it exceeded their expectations—and from our membership and the library community in general. The report provided insights on an important topic that hadn’t been explored in that way before: to gain a collective global understanding of the activities, investments, and efforts libraries are engaged with around open content. This report is just one of the ways that Global Council works on behalf of libraries by gathering insights each year to help inform the profession and OCLC on topics of importance to the library profession.

This year Global Council sponsored a survey to gather “Global Perspectives on Discovery and Fulfillment,” with a goal of gathering enough information from each of our three geographic regions to be able to make statistically significant comparisons if and when possible. I’m pleased to share that we hit that mark and can report back on a few interesting differences.

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