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Berndt Dugall talks about his election to the
OCLC Board of Trustees

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Berndt Dugall, EMEA Global Council Delegate and Director of Frankfurt University Library, recently elected by OCLC Global Council to be a member of the OCLC Board of Trustees explains how the Board operates and what he hopes to achieve in his new position.


OCLC as a cooperative has a different Governance structure to that of a classical business. Instead of shareholders and a Supervisory Board which is responsible for all strategic and operative decisions, OCLC is governed in part by its members.

The OCLC Bylaws and Code of Regulations identify three levels of governance: Members who are organised in three geographic Regional Councils, the Global Council and the Board of Trustees. The Global Council consists of 48 member-elected delegates and three ex-officio officers (Vice President / President Elect, President, and Past President).

While the Global Council delegates represent the members of the cooperative, the Board is a different body. The Board approves OCLC’s strategic direction and operating budget. The Board consists of 15 to 17 members of which one is the President and CEO, who is appointed by the Board. From the others up to 10 are co-opted by the Board itself to represent both libraries and other professions such as Law and Finance and the other 6 are elected by Global Council. This is the way Global Council can directly influence the fortunes of OCLC. The Board and Council are in some way dependent on each other since changes to the Bylaws and Code of Regulations require the agreement of both bodies.

A term as a Board member lasts 4 years. Therefore the Global Council follows a cycle where they elect two members in year one and one in year two.  The election process itself starts by the Global Council Executive Committee issuing a call for nominations and anybody who is willing to stand can put their name forward or be nominated by another delegate.

All nominations are then collected and the candidates are requested to fill in a standardised sheet where they can indicate their qualifications, publication lists and all the usual information you submit when applying for a job or a position.

The Global Council Nominating Committee (whose role and composition is also part of the Bylaws) checks the application forms and makes a pre-selection. As a result of this process normally two of the applicants for each position are invited to give a presentation during the Annual Global Council Meeting held in April / May after which the delegates vote secretly and the person, who receives the majority of the votes, is elected.

In my case I felt that my qualification for a seat in the Board lay primarily with my significant experience with all parts of OCLC Governance. I was first elected as a Delegate to Global Council in 2004. I have served twice in its Executive Committee and served as Vice President in 2011, followed by President in 2012 and Past President until June 2013. Furthermore, I was heavily involved in the establishment of Regional Councils and was the first Chair of the EMEA Regional Council in 2009.

The transformation of OCLC from a more or less purely North American Cooperative into a Global structure can also be seen in the result of my election. This was only the second time that the delegates elected a member from a non- American institution to the Board and, to complete the transformation process, only the second non-native English speaker as well (The first was Christine Deschamps from France).  

I hope that I can serve in the name of all delegates independent of where they come from and also independent from the library types they represent.  When more than 50% of all WorldCat records  are in languages other than English, when around 25% of OCLCs revenue comes from members outside the US,  then also a stronger diversity within the Board will not only further strengthen the Global structure, but should also encourage colleagues from all different parts of the world to become actively engaged in the governance structure of the Cooperative.

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