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Keynote Speech – John F. Helmer

Transformative collaboration in academic libraries

in Theme 3: Sustainable Technologies

John F. Helmer draws on his experiences with the Orbis Cascade Alliance and the International Coalition of Library Consortia to suggest a transformative future for academic libraries. Key elements include the role of consortia, membership composition, scale, organizational culture, ambition, personal relationships, entrepreneurial spirit, the buy-in of leadership, pursuit of bold initiatives, and, importantly, shared tools that encourage deep collaboration. Helmer suggests a future based on deep dependencies, shared expertise, and trust among partner libraries. As prerequisites for this future, he details the importance of shared library management systems and the establishment of a sound practical and philosophical bases for a “collaborative workforce.”

John F. Helmer

Executive Director, Orbis Cascade Alliance


John F. Helmer has been actively involved in library consortia for more than 20 years and currently serves as Executive Director of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, a nonprofit organization serving 37 colleges and universities in the northwest U.S. John is the 2012 winner of the American Library Association’s Hugh C. Atkinson Memorial Award, which recognizes Helmer for risk-taking and as an effective leader and champion of new ideas and initiatives. John’s early career includes bookselling, special collections cataloging, authority control, and systems administration positions in academic libraries. His education includes an undergraduate degree in mathematical economics, graduate work in econometrics, and an MLS from UCLA.

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last modified 14 July 2016