OCLC: The World's Libraries. Connected - A Strategic Globalization Process
Founded in 1967, OCLC Inc. is a nonprofit, membership,
computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public
purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing
information costs. More than 60,000 libraries in 112 countries have used OCLC
services for cataloging, reference, resource sharing, eContent,
preservation, library management and Web services. OCLC and its worldwide
member libraries (11,000 outside of the
OCLC's governance structure consists of Members and Governing Members, the Members Council and the Board of Trustees. Governing Members of OCLC elect representatives to the Members Council. The Members Council is comprised of 70 delegates who reflect and articulate the interests of member institutions that participate in OCLC through qualifying regional service providers. There is also a 15-member Board of Trustees, which has the fiduciary responsibility for the organization.
In its first three decades, OCLC's international
presence was fairly small. Over time, use of its products, and the number of
members began to grow In
2001, responding to this growth, six new delegates were added to the Members
Council from outside of the
In 2004-2005 OCLC's Members Council and Board asked management for a wider understanding of OCLC's international potential. The resources that OCLC used during this period included Bonnie Koenig's book Going Global for the Greater Good and the different stages of international engagement outlined. Internationalization Spectrum Graphic A presentation by OCLC's marketing vice president and a simple graphic showing how products were used and valued differently in different parts of the world was also what George Needham, Vice President of Member Services called an "Ah-ha moment" for the group.
These discussions led to a report entitled "Toward Globalization - OCLC Strategic Activities 2006 and Beyond" http://www.oclc.org/memberscouncil/meetings/2005/may/11617globalstrategyreportweb.pdf Presenting this information to the Members Council resulted in a dialogue that allowed its non-U.S members to engage more fully and all of OCLC's stakeholders to be vested in a global trajectory.
Some of the steps OCLC took as a response to this internal educational process, and an additional governance review it conducted in 2007, included:
(1) Changing its logo and name (to OCLC Inc.) to make them more global friendly.
(2) Reorganized its management structure.
geographic decentralization of operational functions. For example, new product development now
reports through an office in the
of staff based in the
George Needham cites a few factors in OCLC's successful globalization process. These include:
(1) The inspiration, drive and commitment of OCLC's CEO.
(2) An understanding that "You can't eat the elephant in one bite" - that it takes time to sensitize an organization to international issues and what is going on in different parts of the world.
(3) A strong communication process for sharing information with all key stakeholders.
Bonnie Koenig, April 9, 2008