Making a smarter library…and a smarter cooperative


Late last month, the OCLC FY18 Global Council meeting was held in Dublin, Ohio, USA. Global Council is comprised of 48 member-elected delegates, each representing one of three regions (the Americas; Europe, Middle East, and Africa; and the Asia Pacific Region). Delegates work on behalf of the global membership to reflect the needs of member institutions and elect representation for OCLC’s Board of Trustees. A total of six members of OCLC’s Board of Trustees are elected by Global Council.

In addition to electing new members to the Board, Global Council  also wrapped up a year of council activity around the theme for the year: The Smarter Library. This was the first time all three regions shared a common theme, and it drove our choices for speakers, panels, discussions, and activities. By focusing on a similar set of topics, we were able to share key learnings across all three regional meetings … and what a fantastic year it has been!

More than 650 librarians across 43 countries attended one of these regional council meetings along with more than 140 presenters. OCLC President and CEO Skip Prichard was a featured keynote at each regional council meeting, presenting his “Shared Vision for a Smarter Future.” Other keynote speakers included prominent librarians, such as US Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla D. Hayden; Dr. Masaru Kitsuregawa, Director General of the National Institute of Informatics in Japan; and Pamela Tulloch, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Library and Information Council.

“Smarter Library” materials now online for all 3 OCLC Regional Council events. Click To Tweet

Select outputs from all three meetings are now available online. I encourage you to look at the videos, graphic recorder illustrations, and presentations. Our speakers and members provided us with both information and inspiration across a variety of topics:

You’ll find ideas, questions, and insights about what it takes to become smarter and innovate continuously around the needs of the communities we serve. The dialogue reached into the heart of OCLC’s mission and that of individual libraries.


2017 OCLC Americas Regional Council (Baltimore, MD)

What did we learn?

In this global dialogue, while we did talk of technology, artificial intelligence, and even robotics, we primarily discussed getting smarter in more practical ways. Like elevating personalized experiences through conversations and relationship building with library users. We explored leveraging data and analytics to create innovative programming and drive collection management decisions.


2017 Asia Pacific Regional Council (Tokyo, Japan)

When we gather together in community, individual learnings also help us decide where our OCLC cooperative can evolve—in services, research, and governance. This is a unique benefit of participating in council meetings and other OCLC membership activities, such as advisory groups, user groups, working groups, online communities, and affinity groups. The OCLC cooperative and regional council meetings provide a platform for two kinds of growth:

  • From a professional development standpoint, you get to influence work on projects and participate in programs that foster new thinking and that lead system-wide change in our profession. And you can explore broad trends, examine the latest research, and hear from some of the most influential members of our profession.
  • From a personal standpoint, you can build expertise and knowledge, meet new people, and grow your network of librarian contacts. These relationships and friendships endure well beyond your official service and become a “go-to group” for advice and counsel.

2018 EMEA Regional Council (Edinburgh, Scotland)

More than any one fact, story, or presentation, that’s what I took away this year—the unique learning and development that is only possible within an organization like OCLC.

Thank you…and see you next year!

Our regional council meetings have become premier events in the library community around the world. The sessions were filled with great enthusiasm and interesting conversations.

Having just completed our Global Council review of the FY18 meetings, I can tell you that your member leadership was pleased with the results. They reviewed some of the most compelling content from all three regional meetings and discussed how OCLC, as a cooperative, can “get smarter” all the time.

2018 Global Council Group

2018 Global Council

We also began work on our theme for FY19 … which I look forward to sharing with you very soon! In the meantime, please pencil one of these dates to join for this for another great year of collaboration and learning:

My thanks to all who planned and attended these powerful events, and to those who are already working to make the next series of council meetings even better. We do hope that you attend, or at least join the conversation on social media. I look forward to hearing from you.