“We are stronger when we can solve problems collaboratively.”


As Community Program Manager for the OCLC Community Center, I have many conversations with our members that fall under a few simple categories. Most often we talk about insights and ideas that they have to increase collaboration around OCLC technology and services. But occasionally our conversations turn to talking about their organizations’ goals or their own personal goals for professional growth. Regardless of the conversation, I’ve learned that one of the most important things I can do is get out of the way and let other members lead the discussion, providing their own perspective and insight.

That final step is an important one. We’re always on the lookout for ways to create a culture of support and collaboration, which is why I’m so excited about the growth of the OCLC Online Community Center over the past year. A growth that’s measured entirely in member-to-member engagement.

A fast-growing platform for sharing knowledge

When the OCLC Community Center launched a year ago, we never anticipated it becoming OCLC’s fastest growing “service.” Since its launch in July 2015, more than 8,900 users from 3,500 libraries worldwide have logged in to share workflows, seek advice from peers, contribute ideas on how to improve products and interact with OCLC product teams.

In its first year, community members logged more than 5,200 discussions and contributed 360 different enhancement ideas to help push libraries forward. Those conversations are a terrific resource for both OCLC staff and other members.

What can a collaborative online community do for your library? Click To Tweet

This activity was led by a dozen superstar collaborators who collectively participated in more than 500 community conversations. These members exemplify the idea of sharing knowledge in order to enable breakthroughs among peers.

Individual contributions, collective results

I’d like to share some of my favorite quotes from a few of these superstar collaborators about what they get out of the Community Center. The emphasis below is mine, because I think it really points out several of the most important aspects of the service.

“Over time, reading the discussion posts has become part of my daily routine. It is great to see how discussions result in enhancement requests, or to find out someone else has solved a problem we were unable to. It’s also quite rewarding to answer some questions and share our experiences with the community. As a community our knowledge and power to improve both the system and our workflows is quite substantial.Richard Broekman, Tilburg University, Tilburg, Netherlands

“I work in a small library where it would be easy to become isolated. That’s why the community center is so valuable—it is a place where I can give and receive advice, support and tips with my peers at other OCLC libraries who use the same software. Many of them I’ve never met, but I recognize them as friends from their usernames. We are stronger when we can solve problems collaboratively.Karl Stutzman, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana, USA.

I think the collaborative nature of the Community Center is one of the things that is missing from the standard ILS experience. When we initially signed on, other libraries helped us alter and streamline our workflows through discussions in the Community Center. Since then, we’ve collaborated with other libraries about training material for our student workers, workarounds for unique situations, and many other issues.” Jolene Veenstra, Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada

The Community Center is a great resource. I use it nearly every day for the many online training and update sessions, reviewing/adding enhancement requests, reading discussions about various topics, and using resources and advice that other libraries have provided.” Sherri Langton, Northwestern College, Orange City, Iowa, USA

“I like the forums and enhancement areas where you can easily hear from other WMS libraries on an issue you are having or a suggestion for an enhancement. Whenever something come up I go to the forms and search them first before opening a call to the support group.” Jackie DeLong, Radford University, Radford, Virginia, USA

We are stronger when we can solve problems collaboratively. Click To Tweet

My thanks to these and all of our Community Center contributors for making the service such a fast-growing success.

  • Terry Brandsma, UNC Greensboro
  • Richard Broekman, Tilburg University
  • Jackie DeLong, Radford University
  • Shawn Denny, Taylor University
  • Laura Edwards, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Sherri Langton, Northwestern College
  • Candace Lebel, The Claremont Colleges
  • Denise O’Shea, Montclair State University
  • Lydia Putman, Biblical Theological Seminary
  • Christine Sraha, University of New Mexico
  • Karl Stutzman, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
  • Jolene Veenstra, Redeemer University College

What’s missing? You!

Whether you’re looking to learn or to lead—we want to hear from you. Any OCLC member library can join the Community Center and participate in discussions for the nine product-specific communities they may subscribe to. While I’m thrilled with the connections we’ve already made, there’s no upper-limit to what we can accomplish through cooperation. And who knows…you may have an important answer that will help another library get to a major breakthrough.

What online communities are you a part of? Let us know on Twitter with the hashtag #OCLCnext.