From your 1996-97 OCLC Users' Council Delegates:
Lee Hadden Bernard Strong Marcia Talley
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SUMMARY OF GROUP DISCUSSIONS ON OCLC*S STRATEGIC PLAN
OCLC USERS COUNCIL MEETING
January 28, 1997
Today in our small groups, we shared our individual and institutional
perspectives as we reviewed "Beyond 2000: OCLC*s Strategic Plan." One of
the benefits of this review has been to stretch our and OCLC*s collective
thinking. Strategic planning at its best creates a culture of thinking (as
well as planning and acting) strategically. Or as one wise person has said,
"We*ll always do what we*ve always done if we always think the way we*ve
What does Users Council think about:
OCLC*s strategic directions?
New, existing, and needed partnerships required to accomplish these
How OCLC can help our libraries and the users we serve move beyond the year
Well, to no surprise, we have a lot of ideas and reactions. My goal is to
distill three hours of discussion by 60 delegates into 15 minutes of the
best of our collective thinking.
I. OCLC*S STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS
Are OCLC*s strategic directions on target? Should they be modified or
We encourage OCLC to continue to grow WorldCat with specific emphasis on
enrichment. For example, expand the database through the inclusive of
non-English, especially non-Roman alphabet, materials. Some are concerned
that outsourcing technical services may hurt online contribution. Local
expertise will get lost and subsequently diversity of records may diminish
We reaffirm the direction of reducing and controlling costs for libraries as
a fundamental purpose of OCLC. We need pricing models to be more flexible.
Small libraries are concerned that there is often a gap between a
per-transaction cost model and a subscription model. The gap is still too
large to be bridged by a small library budget.
Many delegates believe that increasing global expansion and perspective is
crucial for OCLC but it will require changes that we don*t fully recognize
or grasp now. What will be the impact of such expansion on OCLC policy,
governance, prices, and services?
We encourage OCLC to focus on what it has always done best -- cooperation
and sharing. The recent collaboration with JSTOR is an example of this
Enhancing and integrating core services is critical for seamless delivery
and access for our users. We want and need integration and fully support
this strategic direction. Integration that allows for customization (or as
someone said "mass customization") should be a pivotal goal for OCLC.
Since our local systems serve as the framework for all our services and
automation, we need OCLC to integrate its services with our local systems.
Improving links to local holdings is crucial and should be one of OCLC's
highest priorities. Libraries have clamored for access to their 4-letter
holding codes for years.
We encourage OCLC to develop the integrated solutions initiative via a
consultancy capability through the regional networks. OCLC must use,
support, and promote standards that facilitate integration and local
Electronic archiving is another key strategic direction. We applaud OCLC's
work in this area. We also ask that OCLC use its clout to encourage
electronic archiving of popular press materials as well as scholarly
We are very excited about directions and opportunities in electronic
archiving. OCLC could become the archival repository of choice. (The OLUC
of the future?) We recognize that electronic archiving will require a
significant commitment of time and resources by OCLC. Given all that, we
still need reasonable pricing options for access to this service.
We reaffirm OCLC's strategic focus on education and training. We encourage
OCLC to broaden the focus beyond senior management to include junior staff
who are often performing the cutting-edge work. OCLC would benefit from
listening to librarians who are innovating with the Web and have learned
from and understand the lessons of "Sega." A major role for the OCLC
Institute for special libraries would be a focus on outsourcing and managing
II. STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS
Second, what existing, new, and needed partnerships are required to
accomplish OCLC*s goals?
We recognize that partnerships are imperative if OCLC and our libraries are
to move forward. We believe that OCLC has a unique role to play in these
partnerships because it is a credible, broad-based, multi-type library
The OCLC leadership strategy depends upon a strong integrated partnering
initiative -- partnering that provides a spectrum of enabling capabilities
for libraries. Partnerships possibilities include: Internet II; regional
networks; local system vendors; third party suppliers; research and
development projects underway in higher education; consortiums; and
statewide networks. We encourage OCLC to broaden the spectrum of partners
to include those who work closely with public libraries and to look beyond
the "traditional" partners.
We are encouraged by the discussions OCLC has had with GPO and other
government agencies. If OCLC can facilitate the resolution of difficult
delivery and access questions to government information, it will be of
enormous service to libraries and their users. Depository libraries are
increasingly frustrated with the lack of adequate cataloging, access, and
linkages. OCLC could make a significant difference by partnering with the
government information providers.
Through partnerships with database vendors, OCLC can facilitate the
"rationalizing" of costs related to licensing. At the same time, we wish to
underscore that not only equitable pricing is at stake. Libraries have long
been vested in the tradition of fair use. Fair use must be protected in
such agreements and discussions.
We encourage OCLC to be selective, additive, and synergistic when choosing
OCLC*s relationship with the networks needs improving. One group suggested
that perhaps this is a fifth "I" (improvement). Networks are seen by
members as the primary conduit for communication, and often an individual
library*s network affiliation is far stronger than its perceived role as an
OCLC member. OCLC should not be viewing networks as pass-through vendors.
OCLC and networks can partner to provide members with technical expertise
and consulting for specific library projects. This, for small libraries in
particular, would be a significant value-added service.
III. BEYOND THE YEAR 2000
Finally, how can OCLC help our libraries and the users we serve move beyond
the year 2000?
We look to OCLC to help educate and inform not just its members, but
decision-makers like provosts, library board members, and our clientele. We
hope that the OCLC Institute will give us the tools to communicate and work
with constituencies and decision-makers on our campuses, in our communities,
and in our companies. We encourage OCLC to link its research
and development efforts with the proposed OCLC Institute. We desire "early
warning" of library implications and applications of OCLC*s research and
development efforts. We need timely, filtered, and distilled information on
library and technology developments that we can use and share with
decision-makers. OCLC*s educational programs could highlight best
practices. OCLC should consider an electronic information service similar
to EDUPAGE ([log in to unmask]) as a means of distributing information. In
return, OCLC members and customers need to inform its clientele about what
OCLC does for them.
We look to OCLC*s education and training efforts for help in managing
institutional as well as local information and collections through
OCLC can help us by focusing educational efforts on what "integration" means
and how it works. A teleconference that demonstrates how integrated
services have been used at institutions such as Florida Gulf University
would be well-received.
OCLC*s excellent written documentation set a new standard for library
products. Online help still does not substitute, when one doesn*t even know
the question, let alone where to find the answer. We ask that OCLC continue
to provide written documentation, even though it is on OCLC's home page.
The new network options that provide all available OCLC services on one
network need to be scaleable, fast, and offer customizable options for
We need management tools to monitor network use so we can make informed
resource allocation and service decisions.
We need the vision, knowledge, and leverage that OCLC can exert on
telecommunications development. We look to OCLC to continue its focus on
research, emerging technology, and telecommunication updates to help its
members become leaders.
Id like to conclude by thanking the group leaders and recorders for helping
prepare this summary. I hope I have been able to convey the intent of the
nuggets of wisdom and the eloquent insights that emerged from the
discussions and your strategic thinking.
Prepared by Betsy Wilson, OCLC Pacific