Three hundred and fifty years after his birth, the work of Irish satirist Jonathan Swift continues to enjoy great popularity among contemporary readers. Library data tells us that Swift is the most popular Irish author, and the work for which he is best known, Gulliver’s Travels, is the most popular work by an Irish author, in world literature.
“Gulliver’s Travels belongs not just to Irish literature, but to world literature and its relevance only increases over time,” said Dr. Aileen Douglas, Head of the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, in the Irish Times last week. Dublin is marking the 350th anniversary of Swift’s birth with its Swift350 celebration throughout 2017.
Swift, who was born in Dublin in 1667, published Gulliver’s Travels in 1726. The work is now held by more than 40,000 libraries worldwide. Overall, Swift’s works account for nearly 240,000 library holdings worldwide.
Rounding out the top five most popular works by an Irish author are Dracula by Bram Stoker; The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith; The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde; and Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. Oscar Wilde, Eve Bunting, George Bernard Shaw and Oliver Goldsmith follow Swift in the ranking of the top five most popular Irish authors.
Our research also revealed that Eoin Colfer is the most popular contemporary Irish author, and that Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is the most popular Irish musical work.
These findings are derived from WorldCat, a union database of the catalogs of thousands of libraries around the world. We define popularity in terms of library holdings—the number of appearances by an author or work in library collections worldwide. These library collections are where world literature is stewarded and defined.
The findings on Irish authors are part of OCLC Research’s continuing work exploring cultural patterns and trends through library bibliographic and holdings data. Published materials are an important way countries project their cultural, intellectual, literary and musical traditions.
OCLC Research has developed methods for identifying a national presence in the published record, encompassing materials that are published in, are authored by people from, and/or are about a particular country. Earlier studies have applied these methods to Scotland and New Zealand.
The next study, focused on Ireland, will be released later this year. Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC Chief Strategist and Vice President, Membership and Research, presented preliminary findings from the Irish study at the recent CONUL annual conference in Athlone, Ireland. CONUL is a consortium of Ireland’s main research libraries.
These studies reveal the importance of library data, not just as organizational tools to track and find library resources, but also as a research resource that can be studied and analyzed in the aggregate—as the collective collection of the world’s libraries.
Dublin’s Swift350 celebration includes special exhibits at the Library of Trinity College Dublin and the Dublin City Public Libraries. An international conference this week, June 7–9, 2017 at Trinity College Dublin, focuses on Swift and his work.
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I’ve been working in interlibrary loan a long time and the collaboration I see within this group of librarians is amazing. Back in March, we held the first OCLC Resource Sharing Conference with the theme of Sharing Breakthroughs. I see this community sharing all the time, whether at an event, via a listserv or just a simple phone call.
A member-driven program committee helped shape the agenda and librarians provided much of the program content. Thank you to all who presented and participated. It was a great example of how well the resource sharing community works together to share and celebrate our breakthroughs.
We’ve posted all presentation recordings, including a wonderful keynote about storytelling from Todd Babiak, on the conference site. I invite you to view them, share them and think about attending or presenting next year. We’re so happy to announce that the conference will take place March 13–15, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront in Jacksonville, Florida, USA.More ways to connect
It’s a busy time for libraries and for the OCLC Resource Sharing Team. In addition to working with the community on events like the OCLC Resource Sharing Conference, we’re engaging with the community as we build Tipasa and continue to migrate ILLiad libraries to this new ILL management system. We’re also reaching out to our VDX and Navigator libraries as we plan for future migration to Relais D2D. There are many opportunities for you to be involved, share your thoughts and help guide the process forward:
In the meantime, OCLC ILL staff are excited to be presenters at a number of events this summer. We hope you can join us at one or more of them:
Our resource sharing community has nearly 50 years of shared experience, and that is a critical resource for our future. Our membership is also a passionate and engaged worldwide community that, together, fills an ILL request every two seconds. We will take that experience and passion and use it to build cooperative services and resources that better meet the challenges of an increasingly connected, worldwide audience.
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.”
What are the secrets to cross-sector cooperation among libraries, archives and museums?
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Converging needs, practical advice
Through their conference observations, the group recognized convergence across the sectors on topics such as advocacy, digital technology and diversity/equity/inclusion. The white paper includes many practical recommendations for collaborative actions to take place on three levels, including:
Recommendations for conference organizers include ways to enhance cross-sector involvement and promote participation in conferences outside of their sectors. I encourage you to take any of these actions—you can help break through silos and cross-pollinate sectors. It’s good for you professionally and will strengthen all professions.From wisdom to action
Taking their own advice, members of the cohort took concrete actions to connect across sectors and gain distinct benefits from their participation. Outcomes included:
Several cohort members received professional opportunities (promotion, raises, new jobs) that they attribute, at least in part, to their participation in the project. Above all, there was unanimous agreement that they’d increased their ability “to have better conversations with colleagues from different sectors.”Stronger together
The Collective Wisdom project was itself a demonstration of how cultural heritage institutions can work together on shared challenges. Cross-sector connection is happening in institutions, sometimes spontaneously, often based on an immediate need to join forces with another sector. The more this will to collaborate is endorsed and promoted by field leaders, the more vigorously we will reach beyond perceived boundaries.
In the words of a cohort member, “We all hold some pieces of a larger jigsaw puzzle that should create one picture if we can determine how they best fit together.”
This project was sponsored by the Coalition to Advance Learning in Archives, Libraries and Museums, a three-year project led by OCLC and made possible in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The white paper and its appendices have practical recommendations for collaborative actions to take on multiple levels. Appendix A offers ideas and recommendations on three levels of leadership inspired by the LAB Layers of Leadership Framework—self/individual, institutional and professional/field-wide. Appendix B includes recommendations for conference organizers to enhance cross-sector involvement and for individuals to promote participation in conferences outside of their sector.
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Since 1967, OCLC members have worked together to make breakthroughs possible for library users across the globe. Throughout the year, we are celebrating this special anniversary by sharing memories and looking forward to the next 50 years of innovation and community building on behalf of libraries, archives and museums.
About a month ago, we put out a call for your stories, photos and memories from your history with OCLC. We are compiling a special 50th anniversary collection of contributions and will share many of them in social media and at events over the coming months. Here’s a peek at what we’ve received so far … but keep ‘em coming!The PC comes to the library
Submitted by Maurine McCourry, Ph.D., Technical Services Librarian at Mossey Library, Hillsdale College
The first installation of the M300 Workstation was at Hillsdale College in 1984. Judy Leising, now retired, is at the keyboard. Linda Moore and Dan Knoch, still librarians at Hillsdale College, are standing.The Scots invade Global Council
Submitted by Simon Bains, Head of Research Services and Deputy Librarian, University of Manchester Library
This photo from the April 2011 Global Council meeting shows EMEA representatives Simon Bains (left) from the University of Edinburgh at the time of the event, and Robin Green, University of Warwick, Deputy Librarian at the time of the event, now University Librarian. Delegates were asked to wear ‘national dress’ for an evening event and Simon and Robin went Scottish. Robin actually is Scottish but not Simon, who opted for a ‘Prince Charlie jacket and trews’ rather than go ‘full kilt.’Does your library have OCLC gold?
Submitted by Terry Brandsma, Information Technology Librarian, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Each record that enters WorldCat is assigned an OCLC number. For years, when the number reached a million, it was called a Gold Record. On June 24, 1978, the four millionth record was entered into WorldCat from the Walter Clinton Jackson Library, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The record was for the 1963 thesis, Developing a conservation education program for the Ann Arbor public school system, and integrating it into the existing curriculum (K–12), by William B. Stapp.Getting a Passport for design
Submitted by Barbara Szalkowski, Core Operations Librarian, South Texas College of Law Houston
In 1994, Barbara won the contest for designing the “OCLC Passport Software for Windows” icon. Her winning entry was used to launch this new software product, a telecommunications package with a graphical user interface that was used to access OCLC services.A paperweight for a heavyweight database
Submitted by Phil Salvador, Visual Media Collection Coordinator, American University Library
While doing some ‘spring cleaning,’ Phil and his colleagues found this WorldCat 25th anniversary paperweight, which the library community received in 1996 to celebrate the silver anniversary of the cooperative’s database.The lab that leads to librarianship
Submitted by Mumtaz S. Memon, retired librarian, Pakistan
In 1979, Mumtaz received her introduction to cataloging and computers in the OCLC lab at the University of Hawaii. This experience prepared her for a career in librarianship and helped her lead her library in the transition to the MARC21 standard.
What memories can you add? The 50th anniversary celebration will continue throughout the year. Thousands of you from all over the world have been a part of the success of this cooperative, and we encourage you to be a part of this historic event. Send your thoughts, memories, stories and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep in mind that by submitting photos, you confirm that you own the image rights and agree to OCLC using them in our communications.
Join your colleagues and celebrate this momentous occasion and the milestones yet to come.
I was honored to have been asked to be on the program committee for March’s OCLC Resource Sharing Conference. Meeting with and learning from my US colleagues is always exciting, and I was so pleased to see several other Canadian librarians in attendance at the conference. The acquisition of Relais International by OCLC made this conference highly relevant to the Canadian ILL community, as we really need to be a part of the future direction of our ILL systems; we need to be part of the story. I was excited to bring forward Todd Babiak, Canadian author and entrepreneur in the storytelling business. His keynote presentation, “Breakthrough Storytelling—What a powerful narrative can do for your library,” really helped anchor the entire conference for me.
Storytelling is an important method to help people understand where you come from, your values, your challenges and successes. We can apply this to our individual lives, but more importantly, we can apply this to our institutions and programs to help people grasp the important roles libraries play in society and our institutions. That’s where Todd’s talk comes in. He reminds us that when we share our accomplishments as stories—as opposed to lists, bullets, logos and statistics—they come alive for our users. We’re already doing great things on behalf of the people we serve. Storytelling skills simply give us a more compelling way to share those breakthroughs.
It’s a great talk. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch.
Happy “Star Wars Day,” and “May the 4th be with you!”
As a fan of both Star Wars and puns, I love this day. It is a chance to celebrate one of my favorite sci-fi franchises and, in many cases, meet random people at work (and on the street) based on a shared appreciation of the series. It is impossible to not become instant friends with someone whose toddler is wearing a onesie that says, “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
On the professional side, I have also been interested in how Star Wars and its various themes and characters are represented in literature, film, music, the arts and, of course … libraries.
So here is your trivia question for today: which Star Wars character is best represented in libraries?
I had my own guess going into this bit of casual research … but I was wrong.The contenders
While there are hundreds of interesting Star Wars characters, we all know who the big names are. So what I did was find the WorldCat Identity for each and jotted down the number of works, publications and holdings related to that character. Let us be clear on something from the onset: this is not super scientific, and has more to do with how catalogers decided to include metadata for a work than actual character representation in library material.
Which Star Wars character has the most WorldCat clout? #MayThe4th
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If you want to explore the list I used, check out the links below. Note: If you want to play fair, make your guess before you start looking. If you want to skip to the relative stats, I’ve put them at the end of this post.
If you really want to do all the research yourself, stop reading now and get clicking. Because we are about to narrow things down.The Big Five
I will say that the top five in WorldCat were pretty much who I expected with one exception.
Luke, Darth, Obi-Wan and Princess Leia were no-brainers. However, I expected Yoda to outperform Han Solo, and he did not. The results from WorldCat Identities were very close to a Google Trends analysis I did for the month before and after the launch of Episode VII in December 2015.
I think it is especially interesting how attention in Han Solo spiked during opening weekend. If you have seen the film, you will understand why.
But still, in WorldCat—which spans a much longer time than one movie’s release—we came down to Luke, Darth, Obi-Wan, Leia and Han. And my guess, from that list, was still wrong.
Before reading any further, make your own guess, do your own math. Answer after the break.The biggest Star Wars library star …
[Scroll down for the answer]
I thought it would be Darth Vader, especially if you “re-ambiguated” his name with Annakin Skywalker. But no, Obi-Wan has almost 100 more records and more than 40,000 more holdings than his nearest competitor, Luke Skywalker. The whole list represented is shown below along with publications and holdings for each identity.
Why Obi-Wan? Well, if you look at the works in which he figures as a keyword, you will find that he is a character that spans both the original series (Episodes IV, V, VI), the prequels (I, II, III), a variety of stand-alone works and the animated series, The Clone Wars. The kicker may be the animated series, which lasted six seasons—a much heftier set of content than even a couple trilogies.
So, the secret to Obi-Wan’s 4th-fullness in libraries is simple: volume.
Happy Star Wars Day and May the 4th be with you!
Luke Skywalker (299 / 460 / 22,576) ● Princess Leia (169 / 238 / 17,304) ● Obi-Wan Kenobi (390 / 892 / 64,365) ● Han Solo (218 / 318 / 16,264) ● Darth Vader (224 / 360 / 5,573) ● R2-D2 (1 / 1 / 1) ● C-3P0 (4 / 5 / 4) ● Yoda (118 / 230 / 18,320) ● Boba Fett (23 / 28 / 1,929) ● Anakin Skywalker (11 / 12 / 28) ● Ahsoka Tano (7 / 7 / 66) ● Qui-Gon Jinn (27 / 47 / 5,967) ● Padmâe Amadala (1 / 3 / 117)
Managing the IFLA/OCLC Fellowship program, which began in 2001, is one of the most professionally rewarding experiences of my career. The Program provides advanced continuing education and exposure to a broad range of issues in information technologies, library operations and global cooperative librarianship. With the five Fellows from the 2017 class, the Program has welcomed 85 librarians and information science professionals from 38 countries.
Each year a new class of Fellows brings a new wave of enthusiasm and energy to the program, which we sponsor with IFLA. This class was no exception.
These Fellows will inspire breakthroughs in librarianship around the world and within their communities, and they are equally inspiring to all of us who had the opportunity of interacting with them. They will go on to become library leaders and mentors to others in their home countries. And they will advance the sharing of knowledge around the world.
Video: the 2017 IFLA/OCLC Fellows describe challenges & opportunities for libraries in their countries.
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As we were closing out this year’s program, we asked the Fellows to share their experiences and to describe the challenges and opportunities facing libraries in their countries. I invite you to take a look at this moving two-minute video. Congratulations and thank you, IFLA/OCLC class of 2017.
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You can find links to thousands (maybe millions) of recipes using the WorldCat Cookbook Finder. And it’s the work of many, many catalogers over 50 years that makes that possible, of course. The metadata entered into WorldCat is what powers the Cookbook Finder and many other library services.
But can you find an actual recipe within those 394 million bibliographic records?
For one (or more?) brief times during OCLC’s history, yes you could.
And today? Well … read on to find out!It all began in 1974 …
Details are vague. Memories are hazy. And while some may claim to be the first cataloger to create a WorldCat MARC record with the details of an apple cake recipe—and others may deny it!—there is no proof one way or the other. No one knows the motivation behind creating the record other than the sense of humor of the cataloging community.
What we do know is this. At some time in 1974, someone did just that. The record had this in the notes field:
As you might imagine, some catalogers took exception to using metadata fields for actual information. Some argued that the record should remain; others that it would only invite additional shenanigans. Eventually, the record was removed … but not before nearly 200 locations chose to list their libraries as holding the item.But wait! There’s more!
Over the next few years, the record was added and deleted at least once more. By some accounts, it came and went with alarming frequency as the two sides of argument struggled for apple cake supremacy.
One step along the way was when the recipe was added to The OCLC Employees’ Cookbook in 1990 by OCLC’s Ron Gardner, who retired earlier this year.
And to celebrate the 25th anniversary of WorldCat in 1996, librarians from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Clifford E. Barbour Library actually prepared an in realia copy of the OCLC apple cake.
But what about the record itself? What was the final conclusion of the cataloging community?
In the early 1990s, it seemed as if the recipe would have to remain within the confines of the library material itself, not the WorldCat bibliographic data.
Or would it …
Where do you stand on the Great WorldCat Apple Cake Record discussion?
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The apple cake record is alive!
A record with the aptly named title of “apple-cake” was added for an archival material item by Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, USA, in September 2015. And the recipe itself is described in the 505 field.
Another apple cake record, this one numbered 826,054,444, was added by the US Army Corps of Engineers Library in Alexandria, Virginia, USA. This record also has the recipe in the notes field.
So for now, the “keep the recipe in WorldCat” team has the upper hand.
Whatever the final disposition of the record, however, one thing is for sure: it’s a tasty cake.
April 9 through 15 is National Library Week in the United States, an annual observance that has been sponsored by the American Library Association since 1958. Because we’re a global organization, we’d like to take an opportunity to celebrate libraries all around the world. Whether it’s through access to technology, information literacy, diverse collections or opportunities for community engagement, libraries connect people to knowledge and make breakthroughs happen.
We could have written volumes about the great work being done by libraries around the globe. We’ve highlighted a few breakthroughs our members have shared with us and we encourage you to join your colleagues around the world to share your library breakthrough with the hashtag #NationalLibraryWeek.
Happy #NationalLibraryWeek from OCLC!
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University of Wisconsin–Madison, School of Library and Information Studies, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
When the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa realized they couldn’t afford to maintain their small library, students from the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Library and Information Studies stepped forward to help fill the need. The students wrote grants, cataloged materials, developed library policies and helped open an interim library until a new library building was built.
South Perth Library, South Perth, Western Australia
Until recently, the World War I-era postcard collection and other archives in the South Perth Library in Western Australia could be accessed only in person. Since the collection was posted online, access and interest in the collection and in local history have increased, and local residents have even offered to contribute their personal photographs.
Seaside Public Library, Seaside, Oregon, USA
The Seaside Public Library has an impressive 68% interlibrary loan fill rate and an average 20-hour turnaround time. How? Partly it’s an attitude—making the “detective work” of finding the right materials fun. And partly it’s innovative ideas like keeping track of which book in a series a patron has requested and requesting the next one so that it arrives as they finish the previous one.
University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom
The University of Leicester wanted to get all of its collections and the collections of local historical organizations online. Working with local organizations, staff were granted privileged access to valuable resources that greatly expanded the materials they could provide online. And since going online, the usage statistics have been increasing with every new collection.
Pritzker Military Museum & Library, Chicago, Illinois, USA
The transition from library to museum and library allowed the staff at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library to focus more on guests, user experience and public-friendly activities. This included embedding rare book references into Wikipedia and pulling metadata from the Library of Congress and FAST subject headings directly into discovery services to improve search results.
We salute the work that libraries do across America—and around the world. Whether small or large; public, academic, corporate or special; in person or online…libraries connect people to the knowledge and services they need to grow and learn.
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For me, one of the best things about managing the OCLC Library, Archive and Museum is that the history of our organization is tied so closely to the history of libraries and librarianship. Being a corporate archivist is fun for almost any history geek, of course. But it’s special and meaningful for me to play a part in collecting and preserving works that reflect on the people, events and achievements of our profession.
Because OCLC is a cooperative, our collection isn’t just a list of items and materials about what happens inside these walls, but it’s a glimpse into half-a-century of changes and innovations that librarians have lived through and, in many cases, originated. And, as we archivists all know, a look back from time to time can be a valuable tool as we identify paths for the future.
That’s why I think it’s incredibly important that we ask you—the world’s librarians—for your memories as we celebrate OCLC’s 50th anniversary.
That’s right! On July 6, 2017, OCLC will celebrate its 50th anniversary! Through all of those decades, our purpose has remained clear: improve access to library materials while helping libraries control costs. Not many technology companies can claim to have lived by one vision for that long. And thousands of librarians all over the world have been a part of the success of our cooperative mission and vision.
Share your memories and help OCLC celebrate 50 years! #OCLC50
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So, this is my invitation to you—be a part of this historic event.
If you have any special memories from your history with OCLC, send a photo to email@example.com. Please include the year of the content shown in the photo, along with a short caption or description. We’ll be compiling them for the OCLC Archive’s special 50th Anniversary Collection as well as sharing some of them through social media and at events over the coming months. Please keep in mind that by submitting photos, you confirm that you own the image rights and agree to OCLC using them in our communications.
Fifty years of working together, sharing resources and knowledge. It’s a remarkable achievement.
I can’t wait to hear from you!
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OCLC is a global library cooperative, composed of more than 16,000 library members from around the world. Our members span library types from public libraries serving the smallest rural towns to the largest research libraries in the world.
The knowledge transfer and exchange fueled by libraries enables many notable experiences: the child learning to read; the scientist expanding an avenue of medical research; an entrepreneur building a viable business plan. The individuals in these examples often gain their initial foothold, inspiration and roadmap in a library. We celebrate the accomplishments and the end result of the knowledge, but the journey to these breakthroughs is often not as visible. Libraries play a key role in these life-altering journeys and ground-breaking discoveries.
The role that libraries play continues to grow, based on the evolving needs of their respective communities. Libraries provide internet services, vital not only to learning but also to finding a job and to accessing social services. Libraries directly impact student outcomes, from pre-K and K–12 to community colleges to large research universities. Libraries maintain important collections, preserving the history of our communities, regions, countries and people.
Libraries are a great equalizer in our society. The services they provide flatten economic and social classes, allowing all learners equal access to the world’s information. In today’s rapidly evolving technology age, these services are needed now more than ever. OCLC itself is a testament to library innovation, collaboration and resourcefulness. Fifty years ago this July, a group of Ohio libraries joined together as the founding members of OCLC, devising a means to leverage technology to share information and work across their institutions.
OCLC, on behalf of its member libraries, supports the continuity of library programs and funding and information policies that enable libraries to serve their communities, including:
While OCLC is but one organization with 1,200 staff members around the world, we amplify the voices of our global library membership. And through our membership, we represent the voices of the many users whose lives have been and will be positively influenced by a library.
Usually, when we search for a solution, we start with a question and then seek out answers. According to Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, one of the plenary speakers at the 2017 OCLC EMEA Regional Council Meeting in Berlin, big data flips that equation on its head.
Tying into the event’s theme, “Libraries at the Crossroads: Resolving Identities,” Viktor explained that big data is all about gaining new perspectives on the world. It is revolutionizing what we see, and how we process information. And he explained that with big data, we start with answers—what the data tells us—and then go back to fill in appropriate questions and hypotheses.
As a Professor at Oxford University’s Internet Institute and author of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think, Viktor also explained that every additional data point is an opportunity to boost customer services and find new synergies. He talked about the quantity of big data translating into a new capability to make sense of patterns.
Librarians have been big data crunchers in collecting bibliographic data. How do we move these efforts forward?
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As I thought about his presentation, I wondered about the impact of big data on libraries. In our own way, we librarians have been big data crunchers for decades. We’ve made great strides in collecting bibliographic data at scale. So how do we move these efforts forward?Positioning libraries for big data success
Big data has made processing large collections of data inexpensive and fast. It provides the ability for forward-looking decision-making based on data from multiple, disparate data sources.
Some recent opportunities include:
Curating research data. University researchers and government agencies manage and preserve massive digital assets—images, text and data—that require integrated management and preservation programs. These data include project proposals, grant proposals, researcher notes, researcher profiles, datasets, experiment results, article drafts and copies of published articles. The library’s role in connecting and curating these institutional assets is needed and a big opportunity for new services. OCLC Research scientists are exploring topics related to data curation and libraries with an eye toward distinctive services that will support research missions.
Aggregating library data. We are leveraging members’ collected knowledge investment for efficiency and re-use by libraries and other organizations. One example is the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF), which virtually combines multiple name authority files into a single dataset. By linking disparate names for the same person or organization, VIAF provides a convenient means for a wider community of libraries and other agencies to repurpose bibliographic data produced by libraries that serve different language communities. VIAF became an OCLC service in 2012 and today, 25 national libraries from 30 countries are represented in the cooperative data file.
Managing collection data. As libraries move from locally owned to jointly managed print collections, good data about collections can help establish priorities and focus. When aggregated and analyzed across many libraries (through programs such as Sustainable Collections Services), collections data can suggest patterns and provide insights that inform management decisions. We anticipate that a large part of existing print collections, spread across many libraries, will move into coordinated or shared management within a few years. While quantitative data must be used carefully, information about overlap and usage can supplement the judgment of librarians.Getting ready for the future
The “Crossroads” theme of the conference was woven through many of the presentations, discussions and conversations I heard. But big data cuts across many of the topics presented, such as issues of digitization, research information management and institutional identities.
Library services will clearly be increasingly affected by big data—but here’s a thought-provoking question: Will the data be our own, or that which comes from an increasingly connected and monitored world? Will we be able to collect data from thousands of institutions in ways that present answers for which we can formulate library-specific questions? Or will we be stuck trying to adjust our inquiries and plans based on data collected elsewhere?
We are still in the early days of aggregating all sorts of new and exciting library data. Indeed, library big data might play a crucial role in framing questions about education, authority and literacy outside the spheres of commercial interest—if we can successfully navigate these crossroads together.
I’m passionate about Web analytics. This passion ignited before I came to OCLC as I’ve spent most of my career working on eCommerce teams for brands like American Eagle Outfitters and DSW. eCommerce teams use web analytics to optimize experiences for shoppers to ensure that they can find what they are looking for and ultimately click that purchase button.
Honestly, we often pushed past passion to complete obsession. We used to get our key metrics emailed to us every hour on the hour before one VP requested that the emails stop coming out after midnight so the team could get some sleep. Since I’ve been here at OCLC, I’ve found that a lot of what we do in eCommerce can be leveraged for improving library websites as well.Joyful stacks
When I first joined OCLC, I reflected upon how my new calling intersected with my favorite user experience quote by Don Norman, who has done a lot of interesting things in his career, including work in the Psychology Department at University of California, San Diego. I love this quote from him:
“It is not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and, yes, beauty to people’s lives.”
That sure fits into our mission, doesn’t it? It reminds me of the first time I ever experienced a library. I was around five and still remember that magical promise: “Choose any book you want.” As I entered our small public library, I saw a long book sticking out of the bottom shelf. I remember pulling it out and seeing The Jumanji cover.
I loved that book, and it’s one of the most joyful memories of my childhood. Do you remember your first memory of a library?
So, libraries’ physical spaces already bring joy and beauty to people’s lives. I think our goal should be to make our online presences as amazing and as joyful as the in-person experiences. Web analytics can help.You can’t improve what you don’t measure
Web analytics will help you spot trends and behaviors about your users so that you can make adjustments that improve their experiences. We recently did a survey of our members about library website redesign projects. The majority of respondents indicated that redesign projects were top of mind, either in-flight or just completed.
Surprisingly, 41% of those working on website redesign improvements told us that they did NOT plan to use web analytics to track those improvements. If that’s the case, how will you know if you’ve logically organized the content for your users?Are people wandering out of your library?
Imagine a person coming into your library, getting as far as the front lobby, then turning around and leaving. Another person does that…then another. That would make you reconsider your physical layout and procedures, wouldn’t it?
Without web analytics, on the web, these lost souls are invisible. Analytics gives us the opportunity to intercept the poor, confused people wandering around your website. To build them an experience that they find intuitive and engaging. And get them to the beautiful, joyful materials and services they need.So where do you start?
Analyzing traffic patterns and page views is a great place to start. In fact, many of the surveyed librarians said that they already look at these metrics. However, the magic really begins to happen when you look at how successful your users are at completing key workflows using conversion funnel analysis.
To analyze key workflows:
And then, of course, repeat.
We do this all the time at OCLC. For example, when we added a “did you mean?” suggestion feature to searches within WorldCat Discovery. We moved the “Did you mean?” phrase from here:
We DOUBLED the number of clicks on that option. Because having the call-to-action up front is usually a good idea from a user experience standpoint. Sometimes it really can be that simple. Small tweaks can yield huge results for our users.
Treat your library site like another branch. Measure what works and what doesn’t. Then improve it a little bit, every time you make a change. Soon, your online presence will be just as much a place of joy and beauty as your most beloved physical space.
530 million songs. 90 years of high-definition video. 250,000 Libraries of Congress. That’s how much data we produce every day—2.5 exabytes according to Northeastern University. I guess that’s not surprising, given the amount of activity that goes on in social media, websites, email messages and texting.
Much of that data, though, is personal and ephemeral. Videos, photos, tweets and stories that can be passed along and deleted without any thought or care about accuracy or archiving.
But in the scholarly community, a similar and perhaps more significant explosion of digital data is occurring. Here the stakes may be much higher. Without trusted stewardship, data from research will not be effectively collected and preserved for reuse. And when this happens, research innovation and advancement slows significantly.
This is new territory in many ways. Data have been collected and preserved for thousands of years, but never at the volume we see today, nor with some of the deliberate (and in some cases, legally mandated) intentions for reuse.
Given their expertise, library and archives professionals are well-suited to provide support and many have taken a leading role in developing new ways to serve their campus communities’ needs to manage, curate and preserve research data. It’s an exciting opportunity and one for which our community is well-equipped.Managing and curating data with reuse in mind
For almost 10 years, I’ve been studying data reuse in academic communities. It has evolved into studying academics’ data management and sharing practices and the library’s role in supporting these kinds of activities. My latest research focuses on data sharing and reuse in the social science, archaeological and zoological communities, and what these traditions and practices mean for repository data curation. My goal is to identify the common drivers and unique elements of sharing and reuse in each discipline, and what applications those might have for library and archives professionals in their role as data curators.
What mediating roles can librarians and archivists take on between data production and reuse?
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What we found throws some light on how librarians and archivists can play a more active role in this new environment:
In each case, what we see is that trained, engaged people making connections with others plays a key role in the success of these projects. And to me, that sounds a lot like the work librarians and archivists do.
The role of the library and the archives in aggregating and servicing these assets is increasing. Our challenge is to provide new services that respond to the abundant and sometimes chaotic flow of digital data and the evolving patterns of data sharing and data reuse.
It was great to see everyone in Berlin last month at the EMEA Regional Council meeting. More than 250 guests from 28 countries attended this eighth annual membership meeting, which was held at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT Berlin). The theme was Libraries at the Crossroads: Resolving Identities, and we explored the trends that are shaping the future of libraries through a rich program of 65 presentations led by 67 thought leaders.
Thank you to all who planned and attended this powerful event. It was a great chance to share knowledge around this important theme while getting to know each other better. A special congratulations goes to the Lightning Talk winner Katrin Kropf from the Public Library of Chemnitz, Germany.
We look forward to seeing you next year on 20–21 February in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Photos courtesy of Toni Kretschmer.
Our members’ libraries each have unique, valuable resources. For the past 15 years, I’ve had the pleasure of discovering many of these rich collections firsthand as part of my work in digital collection management.
One of my favorite collections is the Denison University Herbarium, which contains images of more than 600 plant specimens. A poignant note in the collection description states that the original Herbarium collection was destroyed by fire in 1905 but was restored with donations from professors and naturalists soon after. The digital collection is curated by Andrew C. McCall, Assistant Professor of Biology, and preserves access to these plants for future study and makes them accessible beyond the four walls of the library. It is a great example of engaging faculty using digital collections, preserving physical collections with digitization and bringing hidden collections into view.
My passion is to grow the number and usage of unique digital collections like the Herbarium. Each collection has a “back story” and usually an engaged curator. As each new, unique collection comes online, a piece of our shared knowledge becomes visible to a new generation of learners and scholars. Bringing these collections online gives voice to information that otherwise would be muted in our web-based world of information.
Once you’ve made these collections visible, how can they be woven into the fabric of our universities and communities to support teaching and learning? Here are three ways you can engage and thrill faculty—or just about anyone—with digital collections.1. Sell what you already have
Find connections from your existing digital collections to your institution’s course offerings. Then take them directly to faculty with some ready-made study guides or background. With all of the demands on faculty these days—research grants, classroom duties, publishing requirements—they may not be aware of the rich resources available to them from your digital collections. Do some of the up-front thinking, research and document planning for them. Make it easy for them to incorporate these resources into courses. While you may not have the breadth of collections of the Smithsonian, you can take a page from its book of lesson plans and “idea labs.” Once you have some ideas in place, schedule some time to discuss how they can blend the digital objects into curriculum and lectures. They’ll be thrilled with the added impact these digital objects will have with students and searchers.
2. Bring your services to the source
You are well-versed in digital content creation. You also have skills in metadata development, publishing and copyright. Let faculty and community leaders know you can work with them to build collections that support their research. In addition, you can also work with their students to set up some class exercises or research assignments. Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has done this with their Center for Digital Scholarship. Library leaders created a digital scholarship fund to encourage innovative research and collaborative learning as well as to develop digital collections that advance teaching and learning. To date, this fund has been used by faculty and students to build more than 80 collections. And the goodwill and excitement the fund has created with the university community may be as valuable as the collections.
Engage with faculty to create new opportunities for your digital collections.
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3. Make it about information literacy
It’s no understatement to say that the universe of information available today is overwhelming. And with the recent publicity surrounding “fake news,” it’s more important than ever to build students’ skills in information literacy. With a focus on the new Framework for Information Literacy from the Association of College & Research Libraries and your digital collections, you can engage faculty to help students build research skills and identify authoritative, original content.There’s something about being unique
The first five or ten results in Google are going to connect to information that everyone has access to. Those answers may be fine for most everyday uses. But scholarship and knowledge work require the ability to find, assess and leverage unusual, specific and unique content—like your digital collections.
For many years, libraries have done a great job digitizing unique resources and making them accessible via the web to support learning, research and scholarship. Engaging with faculty creates new opportunities for digital collections and builds a new generation of experienced researchers.
The post Three ways to engage your faculty using digital collections appeared first on OCLC Next.
That phrase is probably the best-known quote of Alfred Korzybski, the famous Polish-American semantic scholar. He was making the seemingly obvious point that the words we use to describe something are not the thing itself. Nor does a description change the thing itself. Why does this matter? Well, the more layers of abstraction we put between ourselves and actual things, the harder it becomes to relate them back to the “nonverbal domain” as he called it. We can fall down a rabbit hole of concepts and constructs that, while interesting, may not be, well…useful.
That’s why, as we’ve spread the word about our “Digital Visitors and Residents” work, I’ve been gratified to see librarians and institutions look at our tools not as clever metaphors or abstractions. Instead, they are using them in a variety of ways to make real, valuable changes in how they interact with their library users and potential users at the point-of-need.
In short, as long as you look up from the map often to take in your surroundings, it can function as a useful guide rather than an intellectual exercise.Direction over location
First, in case you’re not familiar with our work, here’s the shortest version ever of what we mean by “Visitors and Residents:”
A bit longer explanation can be found here.
Why is this important? Because people in different learning communities may use the same tools very differently depending on the need and situation. And if you’re setting up a “residential” service for people who really want only to anonymously get the necessary data, you won’t satisfy their needs.
Map the route your library’s users take to get from questions to answers.
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With the variety of services available online—and the different types of users out there—how do you even know where to start?
That’s why we put together the Visitors and Residents App. It gives people an easy tool to start mapping their online behaviors and can help them realize how they engage with and use online technologies and information. The app also has been used by librarians to identify users’ and potential users’ preferred online behaviors from their personal perspective.
The information you’ll get from this tool isn’t meant to be definitive. But it can be very helpful directionally. If, for example, an academic library finds that most of its faculty is using a group discussion tool (nominally a “resident” service) only to post and find links (“visitor” behavior), then they may want to rethink how the tool is positioned.
I’ve been surprised—and delighted—at how much fun people have had with this simple concept and the online app.
But what if you want to go further and build a more detailed map?Local research, better detail
Several institutions decided to partner with OCLC Research on user behavior studies. I’ve worked with researchers and librarians at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan to conduct semi-structured interviews with undergraduate and graduate students and faculty. These institutions were eager to put in more time to get more granular about how different types of users and potential users engage with technology and how well (or badly) library services fit into their workflows.
At the Università Cattolica, for example, we found that:
Please note: while these results may be interesting to all readers, they are localized! Your results will vary!Next steps
What’s important is to do something. For your library, that may be as easy as using our app with some faculty and students. At the Università Cattolica, the study was led by practitioner librarians—not trained information scientists. OCLC staff provided some training and guidance. And the Barcelona and Madrid studies were conducted by information science researchers. Different levels of detail for different institutions—and that’s just fine.
The point is: you don’t need to hire an outside consultant or survey bureau. Identify what you already know and what you want to know, and start asking questions. And be sure to let us know what you find out!
The post Visitors and residents: different roads, different maps appeared first on OCLC Next.
Everyone likes reading about lists and trends. I guess it’s part of our natural curiosity to wonder who’s in the top ten and to analyze what direction our culture or profession appears to be headed.
In the case of interlibrary loan (ILL), it’s also a lot of fun! To bibliophiles like me, it’s interesting to look at who’s reading what and which books are the most popular based on our ILL transactions.
The ILL community enjoys the data as well. Last year, the most popular post in the Next blog—based on page views and unique visitors—was the one on ILL trends to watch. And in December, a person on Twitter posted about how eager she was to see what new trends might be revealed in this year’s look at ILL statistics.
Well, here are the latest themes in the interlibrary loan world based on our data. Comparing it with last year, it’s more of the same with one new finding.The top 10 ILL’d titles for 2016
(Shown in order, 1-10. Click to see the book in WorldCat)
If you recall from last year’s post, we looked at six years’ worth of data, from 2010 to 2015, and identified four trends. Adding 2016 to the mix didn’t change anything very much, except for one notable observation. Not surprisingly, the top 2016 ILL theme was how closely aligned ILL was with current events. Two of the top ten books requested were political books that reflected what was taking place in the news and popular culture—the US presidential race.* Hillbilly Elegy was published in June 2016 and by the end of July, it had rocketed to the 12th most-requested monograph on the OCLC ILL system. By August, it was firmly entrenched in first place and remains there to this day. America 2020: The Survival Blueprint debuted among top ten titles in May and remained there until after the November election.
The top 2016 ILL theme was closely aligned with current events.
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Other than that, here is what we observed.
This year, we also looked at the top ILL titles by library type. What we found is what you might expect. Medical and law libraries borrowed medical and law-related books, while corporate, government and theological libraries borrowed business, governing and religious materials. Below are the top ILL titles by library type.More interesting numbers for you to ponder
Is your ILL statistic appetite still wanting? Well, here are few more numbers to satisfy your fix!
What interesting numbers and trends in ILL do you see? Let us know on Twitter with #OCLCnext.Top Three ILL titles by library type
Community or Junior College
Schools Below College Level
* 98% of the libraries and 93% of the total borrows are from US libraries.
What attribute of your library is most valuable to your community? For a long time, the answer to that question might have been “our collection.” For generations, libraries have spent much of their budgets on acquiring and managing local materials, but that is shifting. These days, what the library owns isn’t as important as how it supports its users and community. Access to materials must keep up with needs that are changing faster than any one institution can manage.
It is nearly impossible for any one library to hit the moving target of comprehensive access to relevant content. Working together, however, libraries can take advantage of a characteristic that may be the most important for collection access going forward: flexibility.Opening the stacks even further
As a 2015 OCLC Research report demonstrates, putting the library in the life of the user is key to our future success. Being where your users are—on social media, on their devices, in their lives—is a given requirement today. To do that, libraries have been shifting journals and other print resources to online collections. This has had the additional benefit (or challenge) of reducing stack space. These areas can then be turned into common gathering and study areas, giving users a place to collaborate and learn new things.
All of which is great. But how do you decide which physical materials to share with nearby institutions? Which should go into off-site storage? And which can be safely deaccessioned? All while still giving people access to as much content as possible?
Resource sharing can help your library stay flexible enough to accommodate the expectations of your users.
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The key is to offer flexible services that provide users with resources in a responsive and timely way. This may mean fewer materials in the local collection, but much broader access outside the building. To do this, more and more libraries are expanding resource sharing options and exploring consortial borrowing plans to meet needs. Sustainable Collection Services’ (SCS) decision-support tool, GreenGlass, helps libraries manage physical collections in a systematic way to support that kind of informed flexibility specifically by providing data about the scarcity and ubiquity of your collection in comparison to other libraries’ collections.E-sharing on the fly
With the shift to electronic collections, libraries have not only opened up their physical space, but they’ve also further supported research needs by providing nearly immediate access to information. Just as with the physical collection, libraries don’t need to have licenses to every e-resource their users might want—through interlibrary loan, information seekers can often get e-resources within hours of requesting them. To support today’s information seekers, this speed is essential.
A few years ago, we introduced WorldShare Interlibrary Loan (ILL), which now connects the collections of nearly 7,000 libraries. It’s remarkable that every 18 seconds, libraries supply an item that a user wants but can’t access through his or her own library. The lending library could be down the street or halfway around the world.Staying flexible in the future
At OCLC, we see these trends as only accelerating. Our response is to make significant investment in resource sharing services that give libraries even more flexibility to meet user needs. In addition to SCS, GreenGlass and WorldShare ILL, we have a comprehensive strategy to support resource sharing for the future.
Just last month, we introduced Tipasa, a new cloud-based ILL management system. Tipasa reimagines features and functionality of the Windows-based ILLiad service and moves them to the cloud. In addition, we also announced plans to acquire Relais International. The Relais D2D (Discovery to Delivery) solution is the market leader in consortial borrowing and continues to grow, and it is consistent with our vision for a new service to address the needs of consortial borrowing users.
Resource sharing can help your library stay flexible enough to accommodate the expectations of your users. Collectively, we can make informed decisions about what should remain local without sacrificing access to the long tail of content that may be essential, yet rarely requested.
Together, OCLC members can leverage the content and expertise of thousands of libraries. And when you know your colleagues have your back, you can take more risks and innovate locally. Broad-based access combined with local expertise—that’s the future of resource sharing.
We often fight against the idea of being labeled by others. We don’t like people to make assumptions about us based on single aspects of our lives. Why is it, then, that we are so often excited to associate ourselves with causes, teams, groups, bands, artists and places using very specific labels? We display bumper stickers and wear T-shirts, pins and buttons with short, easily identifiable phrases that link us to ideas we find important.
Obviously, the difference here is that in one case someone else is labeling us, but in the other, we label ourselves, on our own terms, using our own personally selected metadata.
As a button aficionado, this subject fascinates me. As a librarian, it inspires me.Personal metadata as public history
The campaign button was introduced in 1789 during George Washington’s presidential campaign. The pin-back button made its debut in 1896, and we have been wearing buttons ever since to identify ourselves and connect to people with similar ideas. We catalog ourselves within a broader collection of people and look around for others who are near us on the shelf.
When you wear a button, you express a kind of personal metadata.
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When I was a kid, my most treasured button was an oversized one for the New Kids on the Block with Jordan Knight on it. He was my favorite NKOTB, and a button as large as my head was the best way to show it. More recently, when I was in a rock band myself, I would pick up buttons from the merch tables of all the bands we played with. I’d put the buttons on my jean jacket, and when I met someone who recognized a band on one of the buttons, we had an instant connection.
So, when I found a Princeton file full of buttons in the OCLC archives, I basically freaked out. I was giddy to find such a rich history of library buttons that were specific to OCLC.
But how did OCLC come to have such an extensive collection?Pins in the timeline of cooperative librarianship
From 1984 to 1988, OCLC held an annual contest asking librarians to submit slogans to be considered for printing on promotional buttons.
They were handed out at library events throughout the year. I love all of these, but my favorites were the winners. “Terminals of Endearment” got me thinking about the first days of online, cooperative cataloging. “You Send Me” had me singing Sam Cooke all day while I imagined cataloging on an old OCLC terminal. And “Access Makes the Heart Grow Fonder” could still be a rallying cry for librarians.
I wanted to pin them all to my jean jacket and go run into some librarians. And I wanted the contest to live again.Bringing the buttons back
The return of the OCLC Button Contest this year gave us the opportunity to again ask librarians to submit quips, slogans and puns that would reverberate throughout the community today. And the results we received didn’t disappoint. Carol Welch and Jon Finkel, ILL librarians at the Chester County Public Library in Exton, Pennsylvania, submitted the slogan librarian voters deemed best:
“Either a Borrower or Lender Be.”
Carol and Jon’s button debuted at ALA Midwinter in Atlanta this year. Librarians stopped by the booth and picked them up for themselves and other staff members at home. I saw people wearing them around the conference and felt that same old feeling I used to get when I’d run into someone wearing the same band button as me.
A button is a visible piece of metadata you can wear to help other people identify who you are. It’s a visual tag, a quick way to signal to someone that you are a part of the same club. The slogan and the design communicate in just a few words and colors an entire concept, value system or lifestyle.
My buttons catalog me as a rocker…and a librarian. What do yours say about you?
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