Getting smarter

Imagine sending an unexpected video call invite to ten colleagues at different organizations two years ago. My guess is that most would have been surprised, some annoyed. But after a year of working remotely, the response would be much different. And even as we transition back to working in person, that option will be one used more often going forward. Because in many circumstances, it’s simply a smarter choice.

So, why didn’t we make that choice before?

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Look both inside and outside your library for post-pandemic community engagement surprises

When our in-person services were put on hold during the start of the pandemic, some people—both library users and even some staff—thought our role in the community might diminish for a time. I didn’t. I knew that our community needed us now more than ever and we couldn’t fail or disappoint them. We, the library, had to get busy, because during challenging times, libraries step up.

Our staff at Greensboro Public Library definitely did. And I am sure that you did, too. The trick, right now, is to make sure that as we transition out of a pandemic mindset, we carefully consider what parts of our expanded role we choose to retain.

My suggestion? Keep seeking out surprises.

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We persevere through challenges when we rely on each other

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year since the pandemic turned our lives upside down. And despite shutdowns and closures, libraries still found incredible ways to serve their communities. You adjusted to conditions and responded to critical information needs. You pivoted to deliver content and programs digitally and to support online learning.

My colleagues and I at OCLC have been proud to support you. We prioritized product investments, research, and development opportunities that helped respond to new challenges. As a member-driven organization, that’s what we do—empower libraries to meet changing needs.

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Why a “Library on-demand” vision benefits from pandemic wisdom

If it wasn’t for COVID-19, I can safely say I never would have biked the Haleakalā volcano. Well, to be honest, I still haven’t. But while I’ve been mostly locked in my house this past year, I decided to invest in a stationary bike. And I trained for an endurance activity of five, one-hour rides that match the twists, turns, and elevations of the famous Hawaiian volcano.

Of course, it’s not the same as a real ride on a real bike on a real road on a real volcano. But the work I had to do to get in shape was real, the final achievement was real, and the connections I made with some new biking friends were real. And even if I never make it to the actual volcano, I will absolutely do a virtual ride like this again.

My experience also helped me realize something about the transition to a post-pandemic reality that’s starting slowly around the world. We need to carefully consider what we leave behind and what we take forward when we return to “normal.”

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The OCLC network: Collaboration, innovation, and efficiency

OCLC

OCLC provides a wide range of services and products, membership activities, and research outputs, and at the center is the OCLC network—the libraries, library workers, data, and connections that make it all possible. By providing a platform that connects libraries around the world in so many ways, this network uniquely powers collaboration, innovation, and efficiency.

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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

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

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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