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OCLC’s regional councils meet to build community and shape the path of the cooperative

Andrew Wells, Bill Maes and Robin Green   /   /  Comments: 0  /  Rating: 
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OCLC’s governance structure is made up of three regional councils: The AmericasAsia Pacific, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). These councils meet annually to discuss issues of common interest and to provide OCLC staff and management with valuable input about the state of the libraries and other cultural heritage institutions in their regions. The agendas are planned jointly by the executive committees of the regions and OCLC staff. Here are reports on the three most recent meetings.


Asia Pacific Regional Council

Andrew Wells, Chair

In October 2011, 159 delegates gathered in Taipei, Taiwan, for the Third Membership Conference of OCLC’s Asia Pacific Regional Council. The National Taiwan University Library hosted the two-day conference. The high level of participation was gratifying—the first conference in Beijing attracted 100 delegates, followed by the second in Tokyo with 110.

Delegates came from Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. This reflects the great diversity of this region of the world, as well as the large distances members traveled to attend the conference. Our conference program featured national presentations covering a wide range of topics, including digital library services, collaboration, social networking and consortia. One of our keynote speakers was Dean B. Krafft, Chief Technology Strategist, Cornell University Library, who contributed insights into research data management. An open forum gave delegates the opportunity to provide input to and ask questions of OCLC leaders.

“This event helps build a community despite the challenges of distance and diversity.”
Andrew Wells, Chair
Asia Pacific Executive Committee

One theme that emerged in the question-answer session was contributions to WorldCat: How can the collections of libraries in remote areas get into WorldCat. These libraries want to share their heritage with the rest of the world, and Web technologies are making WorldCat contribution easier every year. While these are early days for the Asia Pacific Regional Council, this event helps build a community despite the challenges of distance and diversity. I am happy to say that the OCLC cooperative is growing its footprint in this region.

asia-pacific-regional-councilNearly 160 delegates from 11 countries and territories attended the third membership conference of the OCLC Asia Pacific Regional Council.

Americas Regional Council

Bill Maes, Chair

The Americas Regional Council (ARC) met at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, Texas, on Friday, January 20, 2012. About 200 people attended in person, with another 205 online attendees.

My presentation invited people to get more involved with the cooperative. I talked about ARC’s new Ambassador Program, where members become official envoys of the cooperative to reach out to librarians locally at regional associations, conferences and informal groups. This will help OCLC identify new issues and solutions at the local level with local and global contexts. I also talked about what a powerful force we could become through the OCLC WorldShare strategy, which can bring the library community together and provide a platform—the way that Google provides a platform—under which and with which we can operate locally and globally.

Our keynote speaker, Sarah Lacy, enthralled the audience with stories of how technology—relatively simple technology by Western standards—had transformed lives and futures in countries with developing economies. Sarah is founder of the new technology site Pando Daily and author of Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good and Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the Top 1% of Entrepreneurs Profit from Global Chaos.

After Sarah’s remarks, we discussed a recent OCLC membership survey, which indicated we have a lot in common. Libraries across all regions and all library types today face some universal challenges: funding, relevance in a digital world and providing access to e-content. We also discussed follow-up activities to last year’s report of the Cost Sharing Models Task Force, especially an ongoing review of the credits and incentives program, which has been in place at OCLC for nearly three decades. Following the meeting, we enjoyed a brief reception where we continued our conversations and discussions with fellow members.

The presentations and the accompanying PowerPoint slides are available on the OCLC Americas Regional Council website.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa Regional Council

Robin Green, Chair

Birmingham’s new £193 million library, a centerpiece of civic place-making due to open in 2013, was the subject of the keynote at this year’s EMEA Regional Council meeting in Birmingham, U.K., February 28€–29, 2012. The importance that Birmingham attaches to its new library was underlined by the media attention the meeting received, and many of the 250 delegates from 22 countries were pleased to see the event featured on BBC TV breakfast news.

The confidence of Brian Gambles, Birmingham’s Library Director, and architect Francine Houben, as they laid out their shared vision, set an exuberant tone with lots of interaction for the two-day meeting.

More than 460 tweets from attendees summarizing the sessions were posted. Two of the tweets, “The Library is about place-making, inclusivity, celebrating creativity and innovation, the Library Experience” and “Libraries need to move from transactional model based on books as products, to transformational service which changes lives,” picked up on the theme of a new blend of library.

RLUK Unique and Distinctive Collections Project Manager Alison Cullingford’s steadfast belief in the continuing relevance of special collections was impressive, and was described in one tweet as “so much enthusiasm, infectious.”

David White, from the University of Oxford, argued that libraries remain relevant by understanding user behavior. Francine Houben told the audience that she spent time observing the city and its people before designing the Birmingham Library.

By the end of the event, delegates were energized after spending time with fellow professionals who, despite today’s challenges, continue to promote the transformational power of libraries. The presentations and the accompanying PowerPoint slides are available on the OCLC EMEA Regional Council website.

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