Building for the future: Kicking off the OCLC – LIBER discussion series

The following post is part of an ongoing series about the OCLC-LIBER “Building for the future” program.

We are living in an era of unprecedented change. In this challenging environment, research libraries must respond to rapidly evolving technologies, a drive for open content, and the imperative of supporting rights and values. Collaboration is vital to leverage relationships, resources, and expertise to the greatest effect.  

Building for the future: Opportunities and responsibilities for state-of-the-art services

To help libraries explore how to respond to these challenges, OCLC and LIBER (Association of European Research Libraries) have launched a multi-year engagement program based on LIBER’s 2023-2027 strategy, which presents a vision for the future of research libraries. The series is called Building for the future, and this year it focuses on state-of-the-art services, which LIBER describes as:

“By 2027, research libraries will provide forward-looking, state-of-the-art services for collections, publishing, and curation of information and (meta-)data. These services will be relevant to and tailored for user groups inside and outside academia.”

LIBER Strategy 2023-2027

The series will include facilitated discussions on three relevant topics:

We kicked off the series on 12 October with an opening plenary that featured the perspectives of three library thought leaders:

  • Saskia Scheltjens, Head of Research Services, Rijksmuseum
  • Courtney C. Mumma, Deputy Director of the Texas Digital Library consortium
  • Thomas Padilla, Deputy Director, Archiving and Data Services, Internet Archive

The rest of this post offers a high level summary of their presentations, but I encourage you to watch their recorded presentations for the full story.

Redefining libraries in a networked world

Saskia Scheltjens spoke about the continuum of knowledge, information, and data, in meeting the strategic goals of the Rijksmuseum, where she has led the Research Services Department since 2016. This new unit incorporated the library into a larger unit, which now oversees all the information and data about the collection and the organization. It manages the collection metadata of 1 million objects along with the collection documentation as well as the institutional archives. These efforts have required assuming new responsibilities, as well, such as research data management and associated data collection policies, digital strategy, and data infrastructure.

An image of the Rijksmuseum with the words Knowedge, Information, and Data superimposed in front of it.
Slide from Saskia Scheltjens CC-BY presentation

While losing autonomy in some ways, the library has found ways to exert greater influence, particularly by sharing its expertise with information and data beyond the library collections to the broader museum collection. And the library is also undertaking digitization of the institutional archives to support external users, exemplifying an OCLC Research concept of “inside-out” collections.

You can also learn more about Saskia’s work at the Rijksmuseum in 2022 LIBER blog post, and her slides are available to download here.

Upcoming virtual discussion on data-driven decision making

OCLC and LIBER will be hosting an interactive session on 7 February where we will focus on data analytics and how these can inform collection management, contract management and publisher negotiations, and decision support. Registration will open soon.

Collaborative research data strategies

Courtney Mumma addressed the importance of developing sustainable community controlled infrastructure, using the Texas Digital Library as an example. The Texas Digital Library (TDL) was established in 2005 and today exists as a consortium of 30 institutions with a mission to build “capacity among its membership for ensuring equitable access to and preservation of digital content of value to research, instruction, cultural heritage, and institutional memory.”

As part of their offerings, TDL hosts the Texas Data Repository, which consists of a platform based on the Dataverse software, as well as a collaborative community of practice. For member institutions, the TDR offers a centralized solution for institutional data management and curation support. Courtney emphasized that its success is due to the collective work as a community and a “sociotechnical view of infrastructure that takes into account the people doing the work and the skills and support they need.”

Courtney’s slides are available to download here.

Upcoming virtual discussion on research data management (RDM)

Join us on 15 November for an interactive session that will provide strategic and forward-looking discussions on the future of RDM. Seats are limited and priority will be given to RLP and LIBER affiliates.

Building for the future: AI and machine learning

For many years, Thomas Padilla has led initiatives related to the responsible use of collections as data (CAD). While CAD investigations initially focused on data science, digital scholarship, and digital humanities, the scope has expanded to consider the challenges and opportunities associated with AI and machine learning. Thomas’s leadership has resulted in a couple of important outputs for the library community:

The cover of the OCLC Research report, Responsible Operations: Data Science, Machine Learning, and AI in Libraries by Thomas Padilla.
  • The Vancouver Statement on Collections as Data is the result of an international convening in April 2023. The statement offers a set of principles to guide the responsible production and use of collections as data that is also responsive to AI and ML considerations as well.
  • The OCLC Research position paper Responsible Operations: Data Science, Machine Learning, and AI in Libraries. This publication offers a community research agenda focused on addressing how libraries might collaborate to address challenges and opportunities associated with data science, machine learning, and AI.

I invite you to watch Thomas’s presentation, where he spoke about the opportunities ahead for libraries, particularly through augmenting and adapting services, realizing collection access and computational use, and determining how libraries will exercise our agency to act.

Thomas’s slides are available to download here.

Upcoming virtual discussion on AI, machine learning, and data science

Join us on 17 April for a facilitated discussion where we will consider how advancing technologies can responsibly improve library workflows, metadata, and more. Registration will open soon.

Save the date for the closing plenary session

We will also convene on 6 June where representatives from OCLC and LIBER will present on the consolidated findings from the discussion session–synthesizing some next steps toward state-of-the-art services. Registration is forthcoming.