Web Junction – Study tour 2007

Today I was warmly welcomed by Denise Stewart at the Dublin, Ohio offices of Web Junction. OCLC is located on a large green expanse outside of Columbus Ohio. It’s an awesome complex on a beautiful location with approximately 1,000 staff working out of two of the three OCLC owned buildings on site. Photos have been uploaded to my Flickr account.

Denise Stewart, my host, is one of two staff who works as support for the Web Junction website at the Dublin offices, amongst a team of approximately 10 support, development, and QA etc staff. The hardware/software side of the operation is also based here, with the content team in Seattle.Web Junction is a cooperative of library staff sharing and using online resources that enable us to identify and embrace appropriate technologies and apply them to our daily work.” They use forums, a wealth of free resources, training and partnerships with cultural organisations in order to achieve this. Much of the courseware is provided through a consortia arrangement with Mind Leaders, so is available at a greatly reduced price, to any Web Junction member.

There are currently over 24,352 enrolments on Web Junction courses, which includes restricted content, such as the courses they host for the University of North Texas. However, there are individuals who enroll for 10-15 courses at once, so this does not translate to the same amount of students. Enrolments expire after a year, so these are current enrolments.

Denise and Mike monitor the email and phone help desk support, which is monitored using OCLC’s Relationship Management System, which enables them to keep good track of and statistics on any support requests coming in, from first receipt, through all touches, to completion.

Network administration of the Web Junction website and the other OCLC products including First Search, Question Point etc, are monitored 24/7 in the same building, with three shifts of staff. The Web Junction site runs on two servers: an Application Server which manages the incoming traffic and the Database server from which the content is transferred. These are supported by two redundant servers, which kick in if there is a problem with the primary servers. They also run development and QA servers for testing before going live, which along with their power sources, cooling etc, all have redundancies including two optic fibre networks which connect them to the internet.

They all also have a lab especially for usability studies, where both staff and non-staff are invited to come in and test software which they are unfamiliar with. This also includes an observation room for OCLC staff to monitor the usability interactions.

Of all the courses begun through Web Junction, about 30% are completed, with the vast majority “in progress”. Many users sign up for a particular course in order to learn a particular skill set and so may never complete the entire course.

The Library at OCLC is fascinating, particularly their collection of early DDC’s. They have a duplicate first edition (a lot thinner than the current editions) and a digitized copy of a first edition which Melvil Dewey wrote his notes for the 2nd edition all over. Check it out at – it’s something to behold. Also amazing was the printed cards which are still done in the card room at the rate of 400,000 per month (check out the photos on Flickr). Old meets new in this space as it is also the print/copy office.

Thanks to Denise for a great day at an awesome location and to Chrystie Hill from the Seattle Office, who I caught up with at Computers in Libraries. You guys are doing some great things and I will be looking to stay more in touch with them.