Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Open WorldCat shares profits with libraries?

I listened to Talis' Library 2.0 Gang on the OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog, or the online version of the old card catalog) this morning. They raised some interesting points. I recommend a listen for you librarians out there.

They eventually got around to talking about Open WorldCat. Open WorldCat is cool because it tells you which libraries have the item, but I think libraries need to make a more concerted effort to ensure that their holdings are in it. It also has a link to purchase the item for those who would rather buy or don't have a library near them that has the item. I'm pretty sure that used to link out to Amazon, which is a nice tie-in to a well-known site, but instead now it gives you the option to buy the book from OCLC.

Okay, so after further investigation, I see that sometimes it links to Amazon - apparently when OCLC does not have a copy of the item for sale.

Here's an interesting feature I did not notice before: When I click on the OCLC option to buy, it tells me: "Your purchase supports Muskingum College Library." I'm not sure I like that because it's definitely misleading. It certainly doesn't support my library directly (at least not that I know of, but hey, if OCLC wants to start sending us a percentage of the money they make off our users, that's fine by me!). Apparently you can even "Choose a library to support" if it doesn't automatically recognize you as a user of a certain library! Anyone know anything more about this? I'd do some Internet hunting, but I'm feeling decidedly unlibrarian at the moment. :)


Paul Miller said...


I'm glad you liked the podcast. I also agree that we need to see more libraries contributing data to resources like WorldCat. However, for them to do so, does the model not need to change? We need to see lower costs, easier contribution, and more flexibility around permitted use and reuse of the data.

See, for example,

Kat said...

Paul - You are right, the model does need to change. I hadn't really given that much consideration, but it's true. I know my local public library has some of their holdings in WorldCat, but not all. I do not know the reason for that but it could very well be monetary.

At my library, much of our serial holdings unfortunately have not made it into WorldCat because we are such a small library with only one cataloger (and many other problems for him to solve). We have decided to wait until III and WorldCat "talk" better, which would enable a really easy transfer of our serial information into WorldCat. At least, that is my understanding of the situation.

If only things were cheaper and easier!