Information Today
Volume17, Number 4 • April 2000
OCLC Describes Recent Users Council Meeting

OCLC has announced that Users Council delegates nominated members for two positions on the OCLC Board of Trustees, heard speakers on libraries and globalization, and participated in the OCLC Strategic Directions and Governance Study at the February 6–8 meeting in Dublin, Ohio.

Betsy Wilson, president of the Users Council and associate director of the University of Washington’s Libraries for Research and Instructional Services, also announced that part of the May Users Council meeting will be broadcast in a worldwide videoconference hosted by OCLC and its U.S. networks, service centers, and international distributors and divisions. The program will include reports on OCLC and the Users Council and a discussion on strategic directions and governance. The live satellite broadcast will take place May 23 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. EST.

Delegates nominated four members to fill two positions on the OCLC Board of Trustees: Bradley Baker, university librarian at Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago; Sherrie Bergman, librarian at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine; William Sannwald, assistant to the city manager at the San Diego Public Library; and Betsy Wilson. The elections will take place at the May meeting.

As part of the OCLC Strategic Directions and Governance Study, delegates spent some 5 hours in sessions with Arthur D. Little consultants to discuss the information environment and the trends and roles of libraries in the digital age. The Users Council will be involved in the study through most of this year.

“The board initiated the study following ongoing discussions over the previous year,” said William Crowe, chair of the OCLC Board of Trustees and Spencer librarian at the University of Kansas’ Kenneth Spencer Research Library. “The scale and scope of OCLC has changed considerably since 1977 [when the current governance structure was established].”

“It’s a very important time for OCLC to take another look at itself,” said Nancy Eaton, chair of the OCLC Strategic Directions and Governance Advisory Council, member of the OCLC Board of Trustees, and dean of university libraries at Pennsylvania State University. “We should emerge with a joint vision and shared expectations.”

In addition to the nominations and governance study, the meeting also focused on the Users Council’s annual theme: “A New World: OCLC, Libraries, and Users in the 21st Century.”

Christine Deschamps, president of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and member of the OCLC Board of Trustees, spoke on “Global Librarianship.” Deschamps said that the entire library community will benefit from a growing global membership in OCLC, which is more than a business. “OCLC is seen as a global community, not just a buyer and seller,” she said.

Gary Strong, director of New York’s Queens Borough Public Library (QPL), discussed “The Local Library and the Global View.” Strong said that 36 percent of the population of Queens was born in another country (with some 120 countries represented), and that 44 percent speak a language other than English at home. The challenge that the QPL is facing is the same as that of a growing number of libraries—how to support an ever-more-diverse clientele while maintaining the same level of service. The challenges range from understanding the culture and the materials people want to the technical processing of the items.

“We’ve had to stand back and learn the politics of the countries with which we partner,” Strong said. “The more difficult it is to acquire an item, the more expensive it is to catalog and enter into the database.”

Jay Jordan, OCLC president and CEO, updated delegates on OCLC’s recent activities since the last meeting in October.

A pre-meeting symposium, “OCLC Innovations for Library Services in the New Millennium,” focused on the OCLC Cooperative Online Resource Catalog (CORC) project. Some 55 delegates, network directors, and guests heard a presentation by Gary Houk, vice president of OCLC Services; and one by Taylor Surface, program director of CORC; Eric Childress, CORC’s senior product support specialist; and Bradley Watson, CORC’s consulting systems analyst and chief trainer.

Minutes from the February 2000 meeting are available on the OCLC Users Council Web site (

The Users Council supports OCLC’s mission by serving as a key discussion forum and communications link between OCLC management and member libraries, regional networks, and other partners. By providing a channel for recommendations and questions from Users Council delegates, approving changes in the Code of Regulations, and electing six members of the Board of Trustees, Users Council helps shape the future direction of OCLC.

Source: OCLC, Dublin, OH, 614/764-6000; Fax: 614/764-6096;

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