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Reimagine Descriptive Workflows: A Community-informed Agenda for Reparative and Inclusive Descriptive Practice

April 5, 2022

OCLC, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, sponsored the Reimagine Descriptive Workflows project to better understand and address harm caused by cultural institutions' collection descriptions.The Reimagine Descriptive Workflows project convened a group of experts, practitioners, and community members to determine ways of improving descriptive practices, tools, infrastructure, and workflows in libraries and archives. The result, this community agenda, is offered to the broad library and archives community of practice. The agenda draws together insights from the convening, related research, and operational work that is ongoing in the field. All institutions hold power to make meaningful changes in this space, and all share collective responsibility.  The agenda is constructed to instruct and chart a path toward reparative and inclusive description. The agenda is divided into two distinct parts.The first part provides contextual information regarding the project, the convening, and the methods used to create this agenda. It also frames the historical, local, and workflow challenges and tensions to consider when approaching inclusive and reparative metadata work.The second part offers a framework of guidance that suggests actions and exercises that can help frame institutions' local priorities and areas for change, and also provides examples to inspire local work.OCLC, as an organization that plays a significant role in the stewardship of library metadata, is very pleased to be able to facilitate the production of this community agenda. The agenda and its recommendations will also be an important guide for OCLC as it charts its own way forward. The work of confronting and addressing harmful description practice is not easy, and we are grateful for community contributions that have informed and shaped this project and publication.

WikiCite 2018-2019: Citations for the Sum of All Human Knowledge

July 17, 2019

Wikipedia is the world's largest, most widely used online encyclopedia. Wikipedia relies on policies that put a premium on verifiability of the information it holds, a commitment to citations, fact-checking, and accuracy. How does the Wikimedia movement empower individuals to assess reliable sources and arm them with quality information so they can make decisions based on facts? How do we identify bias or distortions in the application of these verifiability policies? These questions are relevant not only to Wikipedia users but to consumers of media around the globe.Over the past decade, the Wikimedia movement has come together to answer that question. Efforts to design better ways to support sourcing have begun to coalesce around Wikipedia's sibling project Wikidata—the free knowledge base that anyone can edit. With the creation of a rich, human-curated, and machine-readable knowledge base of sources in Wikidata, the WikiCite initiative is crowdsourcing the process of vetting information and its provenance.WikiCite is an initiative aiming to build a comprehensive knowledge base of sources, to serve the sum of all human knowledge. This report examines the impact, key milestones, and reach the WikiCite community has achieved over the course of the past year (2018-2019).

The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting: A Synthesis of the Harvard Library’s Hazen Memorial Symposium

August 2, 2017

In October 2016, a group of eminent library leaders, research collections specialists and scholars gathered at Norton's Woods Conference Center in Cambridge, MA, to commemorate the career of Dan Hazen (1947–2015) and reflect upon the transformation of academic library collections. Hazen was a towering figure in the world of research collections management and was personally known to many attendees; his impact on the profession of academic librarianship and the shape of research collections is widely recognized and continues to shape practice and policy in major research libraries.Drawing from presentations and audience discussions at The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting: A Symposium Inspired by Dan C. Hazen, this publication examines of some central themes important to a broader conversation about the future of academic library collections, in particular, collective collections and the reimagination of what have traditionally been called "special" and archival collections (now referred to as unique and distinctive collections).The publication also includes a foreword about Dan Hazen and his work by Sarah E. Thomas, Vice President for the Harvard Library and University Librarian & Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting: A Synthesis of the Harvard Library's Hazen Memorial Symposium is not only a tribute to Hazen's impact on the academic library community, but also a primer on where academic library collections could be headed in the future, and is a must read for anyone interested in library collection trends.

Shifting Gears: Gearing Up to Get into the Flow, Second Edition

June 8, 2017

In 2007, directors, administrators and curators of special collections in libraries, archives and museums came together for a forum—Digitization Matters: Breaking Through the Barriers—to discuss how to advance digitization of primary sources, in light of efforts at the time toward mass digitization of books. The report Shifting Gears: Gearing Up to Get into the Flow reflected the ideas and discussion at the forum around the growing expectation that library materials (especially special collections) would be available online, the importance of prioritizing this work as an essential service of libraries and archives, and ideas for how to scale up the digitization of special collections.Now, ten years after the first edition, that need and importance has only grown.As Merrilee Proffitt writes in the foreword: "The special collections community has begun to grapple with the special challenges of 'born digital' collections. Unique and distinctive collections have been recognized as being an important part of a research library, perhaps the thing that will set libraries apart from one another in the future. … Amidst this change, we continue to seek how we can effectively digitize special collections and improve discovery and access, no matter the portal or platform. It is not only critical that our collections are made available on the internet, we must provide them frictionless passage to the environments that our communities seek them."Shifting Gears is being republished on its tenth anniversary as OCLC Research and the OCLC Research Library Partnership reconsider their work agenda around unique and distinctive materials, and this report, along with additional work, will provide a framework for community action.

Advancing the National Digital Platform: The State of Digitization in US Public and State Libraries

January 23, 2017

Written by Kendra Morgan, Senior Program Manager, WebJunction, and Merrilee Proffitt, OCLC Research Senior Program Officer, this report summarizes the results of a needs assessment and gap analysis of digitization activities by public libraries and state library agencies in the US.For the assessment OCLC partnered with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), and two divisions of the American Library Association—the Public Library Association (PLA) and the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS).The project was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through a National Leadership Grant. With the support of this grant, national surveys of public libraries and state library agencies were conducted to gauge the extent to which US public libraries are positioned to support the growth of the national digital platform (NDP), primarily through the digitization of their unique collections.The report outlines key findings from the surveys and provides observations and recommendations for future exploration in the area of supporting digitization efforts in public libraries.

Shaping the Library to the Life of the User: Adapting, Empowering, Partnering, Engaging

December 16, 2015

What began with a few libraries' early application of ethnographic methods to learn more about user behaviors and needs has grown to become a significant body of work done across many institutions using a broad range of methods. User-centered investigations are increasingly influential in discussions about the shape and future of the research library. User-centered design that builds on such work is becoming deeply embedded in library planning and service development in some research libraries.This brief report captures several topics covered at the October 2015 Library in the Life of the User meeting which include: environmental factors that are driving libraries to reconsider their role; the range of users served by libraries; the range of choices that will be made when undertaking user research; and achieving a balance between serving the needs of user communities and fulfilling institutional goals. Additionally, the report encapsulates considerations and guidelines for planning and conducting a study. Finally, the report records some core themes that flowed out of the meeting—the need to adapt, empower, partner and engage and concludes with some suggestions for future action.The intended audiences for this publication include librarians, information scientists and library and information science students and researchers as they think about new ways to provide user-centered library services and to conduct research that will inform practice in ways to engage and build relationships with users and potential users.This work is part of our user studies theme, in which we study the ways in which individuals engage with technology; how they seek, access, contribute, and use information; and how and why they demonstrate these behaviors and do what they do. The goal of this work is to provide the library community with behavioral evidence about individuals' perceptions, habits and requirements to ensure that the design of future library services is all about the user.

Social Media and Archives: A Survey of Archive Users

August 16, 2013

This report details findings from a survey of users of archives to learn more about how researchers find out about systems like ArchiveGrid, and the role that social media, recommendations, reviews, and other forms of user-contributed annotation play in archival research. It will be of interest to those working with archival discovery services, or those investigating the utility of social media in discovery environments.Key findings:E-mail and word of mouth continue to be the primary ways archival researchers share information about the resources they discover.Features such as tags, reviews, recommendations and user comments are viewed as useful by fewer than half of those responding.However, researchers value recommendations given by librarians and archivists.One-quarter of all survey respondents identified themselves as "unaffiliated scholars," representing a significant number of those interested in making use of archival material.