Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday Members Council

We shall all miss Alane, here at IAG. Especially me! But we do wish her the best and I am sure she'll have a blog of her own set up in no time.

Those of you attuned to the OCLC universe know that today (Sunday) was the opening session of the May Members Council meeting. Members Council is such a rich tradition and I won't go into it here, but I love the fact it gives us all time to reflect on what we're doing as a group, here in libraryland and beyond.

And it's the beyond that was the main topic of conversation this evening.

As you may know, OCLC set out a few years ago to move beyond libraries and include all sorts of information, knowledge and culture-related industries under the umbrella of "furthering access to the world's information." Cultural heritage institutions such as archives, museums, historical societies were the sorts of groups we (as librarians) wanted to fold into the knowledge-seeking experience of using a library.

You may also know that OCLC has been making great strides to put some significant emphasis on the "world" part of "A worldwide library cooperative" and "WorldCat, the world's most comprehensive bibliographic database." In other words, we've been working on being more global and less US-centric.

The discussion this evening centered around these topics, among others, as delegates contemplated what the organization's values were. What are they now? What do we want them to be in the future?

It was eye-opening to remember that words such as "nonprofit" connote very different things in different parts of the world. In the US, the fact that OCLC is nonprofit is a large part of our identity. When the word means something different in South Africa, for example, how do we describe it? How can we be flexible enough to make room for local variation while being defined enough to stay unique?

Dinner was delightful. I sat down with Jean, a NYLINK librarian from Cornell and found that she had grown up in the next town over from me! Small world. As we always seem to discover when international librarians get together...

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