Posted tagged ‘OCLC’

Today Is Link Day

May 12, 2009

I’m in time off recovery mode today, and possibly coming down with something so just some links for people today.

First up, since I haven’t hammered on it for awhile, the latest attack on the OCLC record use policy.  This time it’s from the International Coalition of Library Consortia.

Next is a piece from the AP about a wikipedia hack conducted to test the accuracy of the media.  The media failed to catch on, but wikipedia’s editors did a much better job.

And to wrap up, the next big search feature from Google Labs.  They’re attempting to create a means of automatically compiling the results of a search into more workable forms (i.e. spreadsheets).  Could be promising.


April 23, 2009

There’s nothing I could say today that could possible top this bit from Tim Spalding today:

Somehow institutions dedicated to the idea that knowledge should be freely available to all have come to the conclusion that knowledge about knowledge—book data—should not, and traditional library mottos like Boston‘s “Free to All” and Philadelphia‘s Liber Libere Omnibus (“Free books for all!”) given way to:

“No part of any Data provided in any form by WorldCat may be used, disclosed, reproduced, transferred or transmitted in any form without the prior written consent of OCLC except as expressly permitted hereunder.”

You can (and should) read the rest of the post here, it’s equally brilliant.

Notes from a Meeting

February 3, 2009

Today was the latest technical services roundtable, and it was my turn to run the meeting this time.  This was a great meeting, despite the weather.  The Westfield Athenaeum were incredible hosts.  They have an amazing library, a simply gorgeous building, and an amazingly active and dedicated staff.

And the meeting was one of the more rewarding ones I’ve been a part of.  We managed to draw little more diverse crowd this time, 1 library that was much further afield than our regulars, and for once I was not the youngest person in the room (course that might just be because I’m getting old).  So a few random notes to help me process things:

We can replace our dot-matrix with a thermal printer!  Man do I feel dumb now.

We need a “get a life” item type for dvd sets that cannot reasonably be finished in a single week.

Comics, man do I love them, but God are they a pain to create records for!  Marvel, listen up and stop resetting the volume number for your collected editions!

On the OCLC record use policy, we’ve been here before and we’ll be here again.

Network!  Learn what other librarians in your area you can go to for advice.  I’ve never encountered another group of people so willing to go out of their way to help their peers, take advantage of that.

Moral Crisis

January 29, 2009

Let’s talk about the OCLC fight (yes again).  The discourse over Autocat is starting to turn a little ugly.  People on both sides of the issue are getting really worked up over this (granted I’m one of them).

But let’s put this in perspective.  At this point in time the library world is in turmoil.  Budgets are being cut while usage is skyrocketing, and every day brings word of another publisher  dealing with similar issues.  There are plenty of deserving causes to get angry about, so why is this the one that people are reacting so strongly towards?

I think it’s because at its heart, this debate is between the ideals and the self-interest of libraries.  On one side are those who believe that we should promote access to information by any means necessary.  On the other are those who want to maintain control over those sources in order to guarantee that they will still be required in their role as middlemen.

Speaking from the idealist side of the argument, I get the the view.  I am a public librarian after all, and thus am just barely staying above the poverty line.  Plus I love my job, and want nothing more than to keep it.  But I still think that the way to do that isn’t to keep a stranglehold on our resources.  All that’s going to accomplish is pushing away all patrons except for those who can find no other sources for what they seek, and unless you’re one of the elite research libraries, just how many items do you have that are both truly unique and highly in demand?  And that’s assuming that those few patrons will actually be able to discover that you have those items in the first place, which is going to be impossible if we prevent any finding aids from having access to our data.

Thus our only recourse to stay viable is to remain open and share our data.

What’s So Bad About Google

January 26, 2009

The Autocat regulars have picked up the Guardian article on OCLC last week, and the direction they’ve gone with the conversation seems a little….oh what’s the word…wrong?  Complaints immediately sprang up regarding the anti-OCLC agenda held by those who were interviewed (why this is surprising, or a problem I don’t get).  And people responded even more vehemently against the suggestion that it’s wrong for catalog records to be part of the hidden web.

The arguement goes something like this, people can search for a book in either a library’s own catalog or in Worldcat, so why would you want to let Google do it?  Well let’s see, because people use Google and they don’t use Worldcat (the majority of patrons have probably never even heard of it).  Because Google is intuitive to use and our catalogs are anything but.  Because we have to meet the patrons at their level and not force them to come up to ours.

Furthermore, there’s a bit of a fear that giving search engines access to our data will make our own systems irrelevant.  That’s only true in that our systems are already bordering on decrepitude.  Our jobs are to find ways to let people discover our resources.  To do so we should use every single tool at our disposal.  There is no possible downside if a new patron finds our stuff that wouldn’t have otherwise.  Really who cares if this discovery happened through an approved channel or not?  The important thing is that it was able to occur.