Introducing OCLC WorldShare

Dear OCLC Member,

The world that libraries serve, and operate within, is shaped by the Web. The Web makes it possible to now apply the dimensions of geography and scope to almost every decision we make. We can tap into tools and resources, and serve communities that are global, national, regional, local and personal. Barriers have been lifted on how we can communicate, conduct research, share information and deliver services.

The Web offers unprecedented opportunities for us to work together toward our vision of the world’s libraries, connected. I am writing today to preview our plans to advance this vision, and together leverage the full power of the Web.

Cooperating at Webscale

In November, OCLC Global Council delegates representing 17 countries convened in Dublin, Ohio, to provide strategic advice and guidance to OCLC. Delegates outlined opportunities and challenges that are redefining libraries. Delegates explored how library users will be best served in this connected world and advised OCLC on the most important roles the Cooperative should pursue in this new environment. It was a robust and lively conversation.

Delegates discussed expanded, radical forms of collaboration. They described new methods of cooperation and different types of partnerships supported by cloud-based technologies, innovative Web services and increased engagement with library users and scholars. Delegates recognized the unique opportunities that libraries now have to collaborate and deliver services together.

We can already see many examples of libraries working together to envision new services and new approaches to services that leverage the power of the Web. Nonprofit organizations and cross-organizational initiatives such as HathiTrust, DuraSpace, JSTOR, Europeana and the emerging efforts of the Digital Public Library of America, to name just a few, have been created by librarians, museums, universities, consortia and policy and civic groups to pioneer new approaches to service and education. We are already seeing the advantages of increased visibility of collections and cost saving through shared operations—what we call “operating and innovating at Webscale.” But we need to do more.

Global Council delegates and the Board of Trustees encourage OCLC to extend the scope and number of partnerships with these and other initiatives. And they urge us to accelerate our efforts to provide the global services and platforms needed to help realize the potential for libraries to cooperate at Webscale.

OCLC members created the foundation to support this vision, and our work has been under way for more than a decade. In 2000, we published the strategy document “Weaving the Web into libraries and weaving libraries into the Web,” helping provide focus for our work on the Web. In 2005, we leveraged the combined influence of thousands of member libraries to build strategic partnerships with Google, Yahoo! and other search engines to ensure that libraries’ collections were made visible on the Web through the Open WorldCat initiative. In 2006, this Web connection was expanded to include a new library “hub,”, adding another option for information seekers to access library services and collections. In 2007, we launched WorldCat Local to provide library users with both a global view of the collective library collections, as well as a local view of the library materials held by their primary institution—allowing users to scale their search using the power of the Web to create the information service that best matched their needs.

Since 2009, OCLC members, staff and advisory group participants have been working together to develop Webscale Management Services to create a new paradigm for how library management services can be delivered using the advantages of the Web, collaboration and cloud-based infrastructure. Thanks to the flexibility that the Web architecture and community engagement provides, early adopters and advisory committee members have been engaged with OCLC staff to guide and inform the development and create continuous innovations to these services.

Our Next Steps – OCLC WorldShare

To realize the potential of these opportunities, we are announcing three critical components of our strategy for cooperating at Webscale: the introduction of OCLC WorldShare, our commitment to radical collaboration in library service delivery; the OCLC WorldShare Platform, where libraries can collectively innovate and create library services; and the implementation of data centers that will support OCLC services around the world.

Today we are launching the OCLC WorldShare Platform, a shared technical infrastructure that will support a growing number of OCLC services and applications. This platform will enable library developers, partners and other organizations to create, configure and share a wide range of applications that deliver new functionality and value for libraries and their users.

The OCLC WorldShare Platform facilitates collaboration and app-sharing across the library community so that libraries can combine library-built applications, partner-built applications and OCLC-built applications. This enables the benefits of each single solution to be shared broadly throughout the library community.

In the coming weeks, participants from platform pilot libraries will work with members of the OCLC Developer Network to help create and build new applications to populate the new OCLC WorldShare App Gallery, where users will be able to see available apps and install them into current work environments. Developers can showcase their creativity, partners can create add-on functionality and library staff can find practical, everyday solutions to streamline and enhance their workflows.

The first services built on this new technical infrastructure are Webscale Management Services, which have been rebranded as OCLC WorldShare Management Services, and include circulation, acquisitions and license management applications. Today, more than 30 libraries are already using OCLC WorldShare Management Services, and more than 150 libraries worldwide have committed to the new service since September 2010.

Over time, we will bring together additional OCLC services and applications under the OCLC WorldShare name, including resource sharing, consortial borrowing, metadata management and other applications. OCLC’s currently deployed library management solutions will continue to be maintained and enhanced in line with our libraries’ ongoing requirements under their current brand names.

WorldCat will continue to serve as the name for shared data, including registries and the knowledge base, as well as discovery services such as and WorldCat Local.

Finally, we are taking the first steps in a migration to cloud computing for service delivery. OCLC currently operates data centers located in the United States. The first data center outside the United States will be available in the United Kingdom this week. Additional data centers will be deployed in continental Europe, Australia and Canada in the coming year. Data centers around the world will support performance, reliability and scalability in our increasingly global Cooperative.

Upcoming Discussions

This next step in our strategy to advance the OCLC vision and mission, like all the work of the Cooperative, is yours to evaluate, advance and improve. Please take some time to review our full discussion document, Libraries at Webscale, and visit our website for more details about OCLC WorldShare. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback at the upcoming Americas Regional Council meeting on January 20, and at the EMEA Regional Council meeting February 28–29. If you are unable to attend a regional council meeting in person, we hope you’ll attend one of our upcoming webinars, where we’ll discuss our emerging plans with members, collecting and incorporating feedback into our new services. We’ll keep you informed of the dates and times of these events as they approach.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me personally with your questions or comments. We look forward to working together with our members and all libraries as we begin a new era of library cooperation—at Webscale.


Jay Jordan
OCLC President and Chief Executive Officer