Report: October 2007 OCLC Council Meeting

The following is an excerpt of a Report of the OCLC Council Meeting by Phyllis Post, Head of Technical Services at Capital University (Columbus, Ohio). Phyllis attended as an observer/representative of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL).. Speaking personnally, I am very happy to see AALL involved at this level with OCLC:

From the OCLC Members Council 2007/2008 Annual Plan:

The Members Council, along with the Board of Trustees, is one of the two governance bodies representing the Membership of the OCLC global, nonprofit, library cooperative. Members Council supports OCLC’s mission of furthering cost-effective access to worldwide information by serving as a key strategic discussion forum and the major communications link among Members, networks, and OCLC. By providing an open channel for recommendations and questions from delegates, approving changes in the Code of Regulations, and electing six Members of the Board of Trustees, Members Council helps shape the future direction of OCLC and libraries.

In keeping with the above statement, a large part of the October meeting was devoted to discussions of OCLC’s governance structure. As WorldCat has become a more global, less Anglo-centric database, issues are arising over how members of OCLC’s Board of Trustees are selected and how OCLC can best represent member libraries outside of the U.S. Final recommendations are due later this fiscal year to be implemented July 2008. There was a presentation by Karen Calhoun about the state of WorldCat, a Keynote address by Stephen Abram, SirsiDynix’s Vice President of Innovation (very provocative!), and breakout sessions based on library type. In addition, time was set aside for participants to engage in small brainstorming sessions. OCLC staff were present to allow librarians an opportunity to suggest ideas for future product and services development or for presentation at a future Members Council meeting. Finally, we were given copies of OCLC’s latest report, Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World, a fascinating look at how the Internet is used today and what we can expect it to look like in the very near future.

The consistent theme that came out of all of these presentations is that OCLC is heavily engaged in finding ways to go beyond description by adding content to WorldCat. OCLC recognizes that it is in competition with companies like Google and that it needs to take what we as librarians do best (catalog, organize, evaluate) and link it to the content that users want. We talked about social networking, ebooks, privacy, and the globalization of library services. The meetings were fast-paced and lively and I got a very strong sense that OCLC staff listen carefully to what the delegates have to say.

The Members Council consists of approximately 70 representatives of the various OCLC networks. About 60-65 of them were in attendance. In addition there were another 60 “observers” like myself. A few represent other library organizations and I was fortunate to spend the Monday lunch break with the representative from the Medical Library Association. It was helpful to have her perspective. Many of the observers are regional network staff who regularly attend as well. There was a fairly large group of librarians from Taiwan working in libraries that recently joined the OCLC cooperative. I want to stress that I was made to feel extremely welcome by a number of individuals on both the Members Council and OCLC staff. AALL is invited to send someone on a regular basis if OBS-SIS and the AALL Executive Board choose to do so.

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