Posts in topic: strategy

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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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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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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After 40 years of resource sharing … what’s next?

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Today is the 40th anniversary of OCLC resource sharing! That’s right, 40 years ago today—April 1, 1979—the first interlibrary loan was arranged through OCLC systems. That year, OCLC processed 565,680 ILL transactions. In FY18, we processed nearly 7 million.

When I’ve talked to resource sharing librarians about the time before cooperative databases like WorldCat and networked ILL systems, here’s a phrase I never hear:

“The good old days.”

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The “audacity and humility” of getting smarter

Ginny Steel

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Can things really be smart?

Is a thermostat programmed to change based on time of day and weather conditions “smarter”? How about a chat-bot that answers your customer service questions? What about an email feature that automatically sorts messages based on your past activities?

In many cases when we hear “smart [thing],” it’s a synonym for some kind of software automation based on sensors, data collection, or connected devices. Nearly half of Forbes17 Top Enterprise Tech Trends for 2017” relate to ideas of “smarter” services, apps, products, infrastructure, and lifestyles. The assumption is that by automating as many aspects of a process as possible, we’ll get better results.

I’m not convinced that’s the case.

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To be a better librarian, break into museums and archives

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An archivist, librarian and museum professional walk into a conference …

In 2016, 18 librarians, archivists and museum professionals came together as “field anthropologists” for the “Collective Wisdom: Libraries, Archives and Museums (LAM) Conference Exchange” to find out more about each other’s practices and cultures. They attended three major LAM sector conferences, working together to look for new opportunities for collaboration.

As an administrator to the Collective Wisdom cohort, I saw firsthand the group’s deep insights and renewed resolve to connect across all kinds of boundaries. They had never crossed paths before embarking on this experience—but by the end, they had cultivated “professional relationships and friendships that will endure well beyond this project.”

And their readiness to find intersections between each sector’s silos is testimony to a wider desire for collaboration among knowledge professionals. Reflections and recommendations for strengthening cross-sector community and collaboration are captured in their newly published white paper, “Collective Wisdom: An Exploration of Libraries, Archives and Museum Cultures.”

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Beating Watson at a different game

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Recently I attended a meeting of the Dutch Association of Information Professionals (KNVI) where an IBM representative demonstrated Watson, the company’s famed supercomputer. Watson uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of data. The system can be fed an enormous collection of information and used to support complete knowledge domains or industries.

The demonstration was fascinating as I watched Watson receive and answer questions in natural language about cancer treatment and diagnosis.

As I left the meeting, I wondered what the impact of technology platforms like Watson will have on libraries. Clearly, the use of Watson, with its incredible ability to organize and analyze data, offers endless possibilities that will result in further automation of the information profession. What place will libraries have in a world of Watsons?

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The future of FirstSearch and WorldCat Discovery

Mike Showalter

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Member-driven product development

A little more than two years ago, OCLC introduced WorldCat Discovery. The goal was to combine the “best of both worlds” into one discovery service—to deliver a single service that would deliver full discovery of library collections and enable library staff and library users to continue searching the one-of-a-kind WorldCat database.

It was a good plan, and reflected a lot of input from our members at a variety of levels. One of the things that makes OCLC very different is our commitment to member involvement. Not just in terms of tactical, feature-focused feedback, but overall direction and strategy.

Like any plan, however, you often find out more in the execution than you do in the initial development stages.

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