OCLC EMEA Regional Council Meeting and OCLC EMEA WMS Community Event 2018

Posted on May 01, 2018

Marguerite Nel attended the OCLC EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) Regional Council Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland on 20 and 21 February 2018 and also the WMS (WorldShare Management Services) Community day on 23 February.  The aim of the meeting was to look at how “smarter libraries” can remake user experiences to be more customised, effective and intuitive. Emphasis was especially placed on innovation and topics related to a “smart” approach, including personalising the customer experience, leveraging ever-increasing volumes of data, reinforcing professional values and ensuring on-going innovation in libraries.

Innovation and the impact of emerging trends and technology were addressed in several discussions. New technologies (such as Artificial Intelligence, automation, the Internet of Things and the blurring of the physical and digital worlds), can provide new opportunities, but, in their turn, also place new demands on libraries.

Several presenters agreed that innovation was linked to collaboration and emphasized the benefits of partnerships to share costs, workloads, expertise and other resources. Adapting to and embracing change, along with effective change management is essential in an innovative environment. As innovation involves people, one cannot ignore the important role organisational culture and leadership play in creating an innovative organisation.

It was further argued that innovation could not be separated from user expectations. Libraries need to build their services on the information needs of users and strive to enhance user experiences. In order to make informed decisions, they need to listen to their users. In this regard, ethnographic studies, including methods such as observations, surveys, diaries and interviews, can be used to collect data from library users.

Library spaces were also on the agenda. It is important to build library spaces around user needs, and especially provide space that address the diversity of user needs. Associated with spaces, are decisions regarding collections (collection evaluation), as well as challenges related to teaching, learning and research support. At the University of Leeds, for example, staff offices were moved away from the floors, but it was subsequently discovered that users needed librarians’ assistance close to their study space. Other topics discussed included research data management, library automation, scholarly communication challenges (open access) and analytics.

The OCLC EMEA WMS Community Event allowed WMS users to learn from each other and to share experiences, ideas and innovations. Several presenters provided evidence-based solutions to problems around workflows and processes as well as other relevant challenges. The event also provided an opportunity to meet OCLC staff and to learn about new products and enhancements. The role and relevance of the community centre, national communities, as well as the new app, Digby, were also on the agenda.

It was a valuable learning experience, making me realise that we are on track with our strategic thinking regarding remodelling the UP Library into a 21st century academic library!

- Author Mrs Marguerite Nel

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