Tuesday, March 16, 2010

RE: [NGC4LIB] OCLC and Michigan State at Impasse Over SkyRiver Cataloging, Resource Sharing Costs

Post to NGC4LIB

On the other hand, what percentage of the Worldcat visitors are librarians trolling for cataloging copy? Based on conversations with colleagues, this percentage could be rather high.

Although the absolute numbers on Alexa and Compete (didn't know that one) may not be trustworthy; it's the relative impact that impresses me.

The original point of this part of the thread was when someone wrote:
"Two reasons we want our holdings to display in worldcat.org: when someone is at an auction and considering a book appropriate for our collection, they would be able to tell in one search if we already had a copy, and if it was widely held; and we want our rarer holdings to be visible to researchers."

I replied that this was good, but the statistics show that very few people actually go to WorldCat, so therefore, if you want to be visible to researchers, it is no longer enough to put a record in your local catalog and send a copy to OCLC. This seems like a logical conclusion and I see no reason to revise it. If people on this list really want to believe that scads and scads of people we want to reach are going to Worldcat, that's fine with me, but it is certainly not my experience at all. I've even built tools that make searching Worldcat easier than most other catalogs, but very few of my patrons use it. Certainly very few understand it and when somebody asks me about Worldcat, I am surprised.

Again, I am not finding fault with anyone or anything. Worldcat only went live a few years ago so it is readily understandable that few people know about it, but since it is such a latecomer to the web, it may never catch up. People who are on Wikipedia (and I shall add Google Scholar) are definitely looking for information, so there seems to be some kind of relationship between them and the people on Worldcat.

Sitemaps in Google are great. I am just concerned that we change our traditional attitude of: put a catalog record into my own local catalog, throw a copy onto Worldcat, and it's done. No, it's not. Continue to do that, but realize that now it's only the beginning. We have to find where our patrons are and go to them. This is not an easy task, but absolutely imperative, in my opinion.

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