Saturday, September 15, 2007

Highlights from OCLC Western Director's Day 2007 : Part 2

Here is part two of my report on the OCLC Western Director's Day event.

OCLC President Jay Jordan discussed WorldCat Local, and said they had all the beta sites they needed, thank-you-very-much. I got the impression he's getting offers from a lot of libraries who want to be in on this. So far, the betas are involving extensive (and probably time-consuming) customization. They seem to be moving forward as aggressively as they can.

George Needham, OCLC Vice President Member Services, spoke about library trends, including the move to patron self-service, user-centered services, even design trends to make libraries seem more friendly and inviting.

The most notable thing he said was that according to studies, for information-seekers "convenience trumps quality". Patrons will choose easily accessible but mediocre data over high-quality data that's hard to get to.

Finally, Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC VP for Research, presented on OCLC's response to the changing information environment we find ourselves in. His presentation slideshow is online here.

He believes that libraries must adapt to patron habits and make our services convenient, because in today's world, time is scarce and information abundant. Brand recognition is increasingly important as patrons try to navigate this environment, and OCLC sees an opportunity to help libraries collectively build a brand to at least get a place on a map dominated by the Googles and Amazons of the world. To compete, our brand must be "web scale", and OCLC sees it's role as helping to stitch us together to help make one.

OCLC sees other business opportunities in creating system-wide efficiencies through integrated management services to libraries in various ways.

Finally, he briefly discussed the "WorldCat Grid", which will be a platform to open up OCLC systems as web services.

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