OCLC-ARC 2019, Phoenix

Hello from Phoenix! I’m attending the OCLC ARC conference for the third time. I always appreciate the size and crowd at this conference. There are always excellent networking opportunities with people who are making big changes in their libraries. Skip Prichard, the President & Chief Executive Officer of OCLC opened the conference with a keynote about being a community catalyst. I was lucky enough to present in the first breakout session of the first day and we had a great turnout. I presented in a combined session called Rethinking Service Delivery and Creating Staff Buy-in with Mary Lou Carolan, the assistant director of the Newburgh Free Library and Lynette Schurdevin, division director of library and information sciences at Rio Rancho Public Libraries. My session focused on the public service lessons we learned in our transition to Alma and Primo and the librarian feedback I collected in the transition survey.

The afternoon keynote was Pam Sandlian Smith, the director at Anythink Libraries in Colorado. They told the story of how they transformed the poorest library system in Colorado into a place where their patrons could have transformative experiences through moving the focus of the library from books to users and engaging the community. Their keynote was just crazy inspiring.

I guess I’ve been on the public service track so far, but I’ve been hearing a lot today about user-centered leadership. Anythink has this amazing ad that centers the community as owners and creators of the library and in my session, Mary Lou Carolan talked about refocusing from the idea that the library is the center of the community and making the community the center of the library. I’ve run up against this idea so many times this year, it actually makes decision making very easy if users are always the primary focus.

The afternoon breakout focused on Developing Staff Talent and Future Leaders and featured Dr. Jolie O. Graybill, assistant director at Minitex at the University of Minnesota Libraries. Dr. Graybill spoke about generational differences in leadership. The session also featured Tony Zanders, entrepreneur in residence at the Boston University Libraries. Their talk was extremely cool and focused on a talent management strategy in use at BU called “first who, then what.” This strategy puts a proactive spin on recruiting that focuses on marketing positions and makes this process the responsibility of the whole institution, while HR ensures compliance. They practice things like super proactive recruiting (rather than “post and pray”), resume redaction of personal and institutional information on initial screens, and an active business case for candidates as preparation for final interviews.

There was a dinner event at the Heard Museum with after hours access to their incredible collections. I particularly loved seeing all of their amazing textile collections.

The second day opened with a keynote from Doug Ulman, president & chief executive officer at Pelotonia. They work to develop communities for people who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families and initiatives that raise money for cancer research. The afternoon keynote was Keith Webster, the dean of university libraries at Carnegie Mellon University and focused on future opportunities for libraries. Then I attended a session presented by Lynn Silipigni Connaway and Cathy King from OCLC focusing on the vision for delivery services. Lynn talked through the research around what patrons are looking for from library access systems, particularly their experiences with discovery. The research looked at library and interlibrary loan experiences and what it might take to move these experiences from satisfactory to delightful.

The closing keynote was from Retha Hill, executive director of the New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. The keynote primarily focused on technology platforms and media delivery in the libraries and schools of the future. OCLC ARC was a wonderful conference again! Inspiring talks, great networking, and a wonderful host city in Phoenix!