With 2021 well underway, the OCLC Research Library Partnership is as active as ever. We are heartened by the positive feedback and engagement our Partners have provided in response to our programming and research directions. Thank you to those who have shared your stories of success and challenge; listening to your voices is what guides us and drives us forward. We warmly welcome the University of Notre Dame, University of Waterloo, and OCAD University into the Partnership and are pleased to see how they have jumped right into engagement with SHARES and other activities.
The SHARES resource sharing community
The SHARES community has been a source of support and encouragement as resource sharing professionals around the world strive to meet their communities’ information needs during COVID-19. During the last year, Dennis Massie has convened more than 50 SHARES town halls to date to learn how SHARES members are changing practice to adapt to quickly evolving circumstances. Dennis has documented how resource sharing practices have changed.
Inspired by the SHARES community, we are also excited to have launched the OCLC Interlibrary Loan Cost Calculator. For library administrators and funders to evaluate collection sharing services properly, they need access to current cost information, as well as benchmarks against which to measure their own library’s data. The Cost Calculator is a free online tool that has the potential to act as a virtual real-time ILL cost study. Designed in collaboration with resource sharing experts and built by OCLC Research staff, the calculator has been in the hands of beta testers and early adopters since October 2019. A recorded webinar gives a guided tour of what the tool does (and does not do), what information users need to gather, how developers addressed privacy issues, and how individual institutions and the library community can benefit.
Total cost of stewardship: responsible collection building in archives and special collections
A big thanks to our Partners who contributed to the Total Cost of Stewardship: Responsible Collection Building in Archives and Special Collections. This publication addresses the ongoing challenge of descriptive backlogs in archives and special collections by connecting collection development decisions with stewardship responsibilities. The report proposes a Total Cost of Stewardship framework for bringing together these important, interconnected functions. Developed by the RLP’s Collection Building and Operational Impacts Working Group, the Total Cost of Stewardship Framework is a model that considers the value of a potential acquisition and its alignment with institutional mission and goals alongside the cost to acquire, care for, and manage it, the labor and specialized skills required to do that work, and institutional capacity to care for and store collections.
This publication includes a suite of communication and cost estimation tools to help decision makers assess available resources, budgets, and timelines to plan with confidence and set realistic expectations to meet important goals. The report and accompanying resources provide special collections and archives with tools to support their efforts to meet the challenges of contemporary collecting and to ensure they are equitably serving and broadly documenting their communities.
Transitioning to the next generation of metadata
In December, we had a bittersweet moment celebrating Senior Program Officer Karen Smith-Yoshimura’s retirement. As Mercy Procaccini and others take over the role of coordinating the stalwart Metadata Managers Focus Group, we are taking time to refine how this dynamic group works and plans future discussions together to better support their efforts. A synthesis of this group’s discussions from the past six years traces how metadata services are transitioning to the “next generation of metadata.”
Transforming metadata into linked data
The RLP’s commitment to advancing learning and operational support for linked data continues with the January publication of Transforming Metadata into Linked Data to Improve Digital Collection Discoverability: A CONTENTdm Pilot Project. The report details a pilot project that investigated methods for—and the feasibility of—transforming metadata into linked data to improve the discoverability and management of digitized cultural materials and their descriptions. Five institutions partnered with OCLC to collaborate on this linked data project, representing a diverse cross-section of different types of institutions: The Cleveland Public Library The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens The Minnesota Digital Library Temple University Libraries University of Miami Libraries.
OCLC has invested in pathbreaking linked data work for over a decade, and it is wonderful to add the publication to this knowledge base.
Social interoperability in research support
In the area of research support, Rebecca Bryant developed a robust series of webinars as a follow-on to the 2019–2020 OCLC Research project, Social Interoperability in Research Support. The resulting report, Social Interoperability in Research Support: Cross-campus Partnerships and the University Research Enterprise, synthesizes information about the highly decentralized, complex research support ecosystem at US research institutions. The report additionally offers a conceptual model of campus research support stakeholders and provides recommendations for establishing and stewarding successful cross-campus relationships. The social interoperability webinar series complements this work by offering in-depth case studies and “stakeholder spotlights” from RLP institutions, demonstrating how other campus are eager to collaborate with the library. This is a great example of the type of programming you can find in our Works in Progress Webinar Series.
Equity, diversity, and inclusion
Our team has been digging into issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion: we’ve developed a “practice group” to help our team be better situated to engaging in difficult conversations around race, and we also have been learning and engaging in conversations about the difficulty of cataloging topics relating to Indigenous peoples in respectful ways.
This work has helped to prepare the way for important new work that I’m pleased to share with you today. OCLC will be working in consultation with Shift Collective on The Andrew W. Mellon-funded convening, Reimagine Descriptive Workflows. The project will bring together a wide range of community stakeholders to interrogate the existing descriptive workflow infrastructure to imagine new workflows that are inclusive, equitable, scalable, and sustainable. We are following an approach developed in other work we have carried out, such as the Research and Learning Agenda for Archives, Special, and Distinctive Collections in Research Libraries, and more recently, in Responsible Operations: Data Science, Machine Learning, and AI in Libraries. In that vein, we will host a virtual convening later this year to inform a Community Agenda publication.
Reimagine Descriptive Workflows is the next stage of a journey that we’ve been on for some time, informed by numerous webinars, surveys, and individual conversations. I am very grateful to team members and the RLP community for their contributions and guidance. We are truly “learning together.”
If you are at an OCLC RLP affiliated institution and would like to learn more about how to get the most out of your RLP affiliation, please contact your staff liaison (or anyone on our energetic team) and we be happy to set up a virtual orientation or refresher on our programs and opportunities for active learning.
It is with deep gratitude that I offer my thanks to to our Partners for their investment in the Research Library Partnership. We are committed to offering our very best to serve your research and learning needs.
Rachel Frick directs OCLC’s work and engagement with the Research Library Partnership, a venue for research libraries to undertake significant, innovative, collective action to benefit libraries, scholars and researchers everywhere.