We are living in an era of unprecedented change. In this challenging environment, research libraries must respond to rapidly evolving technologies, a drive for open content, and the imperative of supporting rights and values. Collaboration is vital to leverage relationships, resources, and expertise to the greatest effect.  

The OCLC-LIBER “Building for the future” programme is a multi-year engagement series based on LIBER’s 2023-2027 strategy, which presents a vision for the future of research libraries. LIBER and OCLC will host a series of discussions to collectively examine, explore, and ideate around the impacts of the aforementioned disruptions. 

The 2023-2024 edition of the series will focus on state-of-the-art services:

“By 2027, research libraries will provide forward-looking, state-of-the-art services for collections, publishing, and curation of information and (meta-)data. These services will be relevant to and tailored for user groups inside and outside academia.” (LIBER Strategy 2023-2027)

The discussion series will run from October 2023 through June 2024, and the conversations will focus on the opportunities for strategic library collaboration around these three topical areas:

  • Research data management
  • Data-driven decision making
  • AI, machine learning, and data science

We invite LIBER and OCLC Research Library Partnership affiliates–along with the broader research library community–to join us for this opportunity to learn, reflect, and ideate a shared vision for libraries. 

About the event organisers:
LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries) is the voice of Europe’s research library community. More than 420 national, university and other libraries are part of LIBER and our wider network includes goal-oriented partnerships with other organisations in Europe and beyond.

OCLC is a global library organization that provides shared technology services, original research, and community programs for its membership and the library community at large.


The series will consist of five sessions taking place between October 2023 and June 2024:

  • An opening plenary session introducing the theme. A panel of thought leaders will offer thoughts on the evolving landscape and set the scene for the discussions. This session will be online and scheduled for 75 minutes.
  • Three facilitated discussion sessions, hosted virtually. Each session will focus on a specific topic relating to the theme of the series: state-of-the-art services. These sessions will be scheduled for 90 minutes.
  • A plenary closing session to wrap up the series. The consolidated findings from the discussion sessions will be presented and a panel of LIBER and OCLC representatives will provide their perspectives on them. This session will be online and scheduled for 75 minutes.


We invite the global library community to attend both plenary sessions. 

LIBER members and OCLC Research Library Partnership affiliates will receive priority registration for the facilitated discussion sessions.

Expected Learning Outcomes

Participants will leave this series with:

  • Increased confidence in discussing the opportunities and responsibilities of data and AI-technologies for state-of-the-art services.
  • A clearer understanding of the leadership role the library can play in exploring and providing state-of-the-art services. 
  • Increased insights about collaboration as an effective strategy for developing and offering innovative services.
  • Ideas for building capacity on state-of-the-art offerings at their libraries through staff upskilling and cross-institutional collaboration.
  • Learnings from and connections with library peers who are responding to similar challenges and opportunities regarding forward-looking services.


You will need to register separately for each session you want to attend, using the links below.

Opening Plenary Session

Thursday 12 October at 15:00 (CEST) / 14:00 (BST) (Duration: 75 minutes)

Courtney C. Mumma, MAS/MLIS, Deputy Director of the Texas Digital Library consortium; Thomas Padilla, Deputy Director, Archiving and Data Services, Internet Archive; and Saskia Scheltjens, Head of Research Services, Rijksmuseum.

LIBER and OCLC Research representatives will introduce the theme and a panel of thought leaders will set the scene for the discussions.

Watch the recording View Saskia Scheltjen's slides 

View Courtney Mumma's slides View Thomas Padilla's slides

Courtney C. Mumma, MAS/MLIS, Deputy Director of the Texas Digital Library consortium
Courtney Mumma is an archivist, librarian, and the Deputy Director of the Texas Digital Library (TDL) consortium, where she provides leadership for many of TDL’s infrastructure services for Texas libraries, including the Texas Data Repository, Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs), digital preservation services, and DPLA harvesting services. Courtney has also worked in web archiving at the Internet Archive and is one of the creators of the Archivematica open-source digital preservation workflow system.

Thomas Padilla, Deputy Director, Archiving and Data Services, Internet Archive
Thomas Padilla has over ten years of experience developing, consulting, publishing, presenting, and teaching about responsible computational use of cultural heritage collections, digital strategy, data literacy, digital scholarship, and data curation. He is the author of Responsible Operations: Data Science, Machine Learning, and AI in Libraries, published by OCLC Research in 2019. 

Saskia Scheltjens, Head of Research Services, Rijksmuseum
Saskia Scheltjens, as Head of the Research Services department at the Rijksmuseum, provides leadership for the management of information and data about the museum’s collections and the organizations, including the Rijksmuseum research library. She has a background in both academic and museum libraries in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Facilitated discussion 1: Research data management

Wednesday 15 November 2023 at 14:30 (GMT) / 15:30 (CET) (Duration: 90 minutes)

FAIR is the new Open. This session will focus on the challenges and opportunities for collaboration in the provision of research data management services (RDM). 

Read the blog post summary

Facilitated discussion 2: Data-driven decision making

Wednesday 7 February 2024 at 14:30 (GMT) / 15:30 (CET) (Duration: 90 minutes)

Today we are awash in data. This session will focus on collaborative data-analytics informing library collection management, contract management and negotiations with publishers, research information management and data-driven decision making in other areas.

Read the blog post summary

Facilitated Discussion 3: AI and Machine Learning

Wednesday 17 April 2024 at 14:30 (BST) / 15:30 (CEST) / 09:30 (EDT) / 06:30 (PDT) (Duration: 90 minutes)

The future is here. In this discussion, we will use our imaginations to consider how advancing technologies can improve library workflows, metadata, and more–while being attuned to the need for responsible operations.

This session will take place virtually and will be a 90-minute discussion including two breakout sessions focusing on AI and machine learning. There is nothing to prepare in advance, just come as you are, bringing your own knowledge, perspective, and experience to the conversation. Please plan to come to listen, contribute, and participate. This is a rich opportunity for us to learn from each other and to find mutual support for efforts that challenge us all.

This event has now passed.

Closing Plenary Session

Thursday 6 June 2024 at 14:00 (BST) / 15:00 (CEST) / 09:00 (EDT) / 06:00 (PDT) (Duration: 75 minutes)

Libraries are navigating a complex landscape of emerging technologies and ever-growing quantities of data, impacting library operations, and transforming service offerings. Responding to these changes is critical, and between November 2023 and April 2024, OCLC and LIBER jointly convened three interactive discussion sessions to closely examine the opportunities and responsibilities libraries face in providing state-of-the-art services in this challenging environment. 

The closing plenary session will offer key insights gleaned from these sessions, synthesized from the numerous small group discussions of transcontinental participants from the LIBER and OCLC Research Library Partnership (RLP) networks. A moderated panel of LIBER representatives will respond to this overview and reflect upon how these discussions can help research libraries collaboratively plan in these challenging times.

Register for the closing plenary session