The rapid pace of change in research university libraries: An interview with Keith Webster

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Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Keith Webster, Dean of University Libraries and Director of Emerging and Integrative Media Initiatives at Carnegie Mellon University. We discussed how academic libraries have changed in the last two decades, reflecting on the growth of digital content and the rapidly evolving scholarly record. I also asked Keith to imagine the research library of the future and to share where his own library is heading in the near term, with investments in multi-purpose repositories, RIM systems, and increasing support for research analytics and institutional reputation management.

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We must remember George Floyd. And we must do more.

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We sometimes refer to libraries, archives and museums as “memory institutions.” That’s not a bad description. But it’s not complete. Because memory implies something that is in the past. Something that isn’t active. And so much of what happens in the work we do for our communities happens now, today, this very minute.

What is happening now requires a response. We must speak out against racism and injustice.

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Library staff learning surges on WebJunction amid COVID-19 closures

Sharon Streams

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As libraries have closed their physical spaces and adapted services to remote work, we’ve seen library staff spend more time than ever on professional development and online learning. In a poll conducted during the recent OCLC virtual town hall, 81% of attendees reported that they have engaged in more professional development since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a free resource open to all, WebJunction has long been “the learning place for libraries.” But the increase that we’ve seen in time spent learning on webjunction.org between March and April 2020 has been, put simply, extraordinary.

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Always together, even when we’re apart

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Do you remember—so, so long ago, back in January—when the idea of working from home for a couple of days seemed like a nice option? An opportunity to catch up on the buried emails, check off a few paperwork “to dos” from your list, or spend some focused time on a pet project.

Now? Even though I’m starting to get used to this “new normal,” I tell you this: once it’s safe to return to work, I may live in my library for a week.

Because while we’ve been doing an amazing job of staying in touch through our web meetings, email, chat, and texts, it’s just not the same. I miss real interactions with people. I miss the social interactions that make our libraries real communities.

It’s the same people I miss so much who are making isolation not just bearable, but truly remarkable. Library colleagues are approaching this crisis with the same mix of pragmatism and optimism that I’ve encountered throughout my years as a librarian. Nowhere was this more evident than in our virtual OCLC Global Council meeting last month.

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We may be apart, but we’re in this together

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I’m pretty sure that we can all agree that life and work don’t feel “normal” right now. Even as we unite as communities to “flatten the curve” and adopt social distancing routines, it’s hard for us to be apart from colleagues, friends, and our community. But there’s solace in knowing that our communities are protected by our combined effort and that we’re all in this together. I hope everyone reading this is healthy and safe.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had so many conversations with library colleagues that have amazed me. Even though the way that we’re supporting our communities may have radically changed, our conversations have felt remarkably “normal” in that they all have the same balance of professional responsibility and personal good humor that I’ve come to rely on, time and again, during my career.

You are all amazing. And your libraries do amazing things, which is why we put the OCLC Community Engagement Award out there—to hear more about them and spread the word. And it’s why we’re extending the nominating deadline from April 30 to May 31.

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OCLC partners provide extended and free e-content during the COVID-19 crisis

Chip Nilges

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During the past weeks, we’ve all faced a wide variety of changes in our lives and jobs. For librarians, part of that challenge is serving students, teachers, faculty, and patrons who now have to work and study from home.

As a library cooperative, OCLC has leveraged dozens of partnerships with publishers to provide extended and, in many cases, free access to e-resources. We are working with our partners to organize and centralize this content and make it easily discoverable in library services.

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2019: Marking ten years of “Top 10” resource sharing request data

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Since 2016, when we first presented our list in Next, it’s become a highly anticipated announcement in the resource sharing community: What were the most requested titles on OCLC’s ILL systems?

This year has been no different, and I’ve had several colleagues ask me about when the list would be rolled out. So without further ado, I’m pleased to present the top 10 interlibrary loan requests made in 2019.

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Five data analytics questions to help secure—or increase—your e-resource budget

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By Justin Parker, Subscriptions Manager, University of Manchester Library, and
Tim O’Neill, Electronic Resources Coordinator, University of Manchester Library

As Subscriptions Manager and Electronic Resources Coordinator at the University of Manchester, part of our jobs is to make sure the university gets the best deal on its e-resource investment. But what does “best deal” really mean? Does it mean the least expensive materials? Well, an inexpensive subscription isn’t a good deal if it isn’t used at all. And even free, open source content has a cost associated with the cataloging, discovery, and course management systems we use to make it available.

The challenge is to find better ways to assess the value our students, teachers, and researchers gain from the e-resources we provide. And the end result should be a better plan for accurately conveying the importance of library collections within the larger goals of the institution. But how do you get there? Having spent some time recently tracing the pathways of e-resource usage, we have a few suggestions.

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