April 2010 Archives

Damn the volcanoes... full speed ahead!

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Until a couple weeks ago, nobody (outside of Iceland) had ever heard of Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that ended up shutting down most European air travel for nearly a week. And while the loss of time, money and patience due to clouds of unruly ash are certainly important... for me, the volcano will always be a symbol of what libraries can accomplish in the face of daunting odds.

We had just spent the better part of two years planning for the very first Global Council meeting here in Dublin, Ohio. The change in our governance structure meant more representation from libraries outside of the United States, and I was truly excited at the chance to get together in person.

Until Eyjafjallajökull spoke up, and the majority of our European council members simply couldn't get out of Dodge. Or Paris. Or London.

So instead of meeting in person, we streamed the meeting live on the Web. Not as much fun, not quite as personal, and harder to share coffee and doughnuts... but we worked through those issues and had a fantastic four-day's-worth of sharing, learning and progress.

I was immensely impressed with the ability of all the council delegates to work through not just the many complex issues facing libraries and OCLC, but with our new form of governance. This is not an easy proposition; it's like trying to learn how to ride a bicycle while you're building it. Their efforts, patience, wisdom and - above all else - dedication to our cooperative are nothing short of inspiring.

You can read more details about the event itself and the sessions, but I want to take a moment to particularly thank Jan Ison, outgoing Global Council President, and Executive Director, Lincoln Trail Libraries System. Her hard work and enthusiasm over the past two years has been an invaluable aid as we moved into a new phase of our relationship with member libraries.

I also want to thank Jennifer Younger, Edward H. Arnold Director of Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame, Co-Chair of the Record Use Policy Council, and our incoming Global Council president. Her leadership and guidance of the Record Use Policy Council has been extraordinary, and I look forward to working with her even more closely in her new role in Global Council.

The next face-to-face Global Council will be in Dublin, and a virtual meeting is planned for June. No matter where an event is held, though, I know we can count on our members to provide direction, guidance and leadership for our collective future. Even in the face of extraordinary (and hard to pronounce) circumstances.