Monday, March 15, 2010

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

Posting to NGC4LIB
Laval Hunsucker wrote:
<snip>
I have no 'proof' immediately available one way or the other ( and would like to know what methodology, what valid and reliable research results, and what apt inferential statistics lie behind the declaration that "it can be proven that very, very few people use Worldcat or even know about it" ; maybe you have a quick reference at hand ), but I've for some years been constantly hearing disciplinary scholars saying in an off-hand fashion that their search in WorldCat yielded such-and-such a result. Isn't at least some of this dependent upon how visible the resource has locally been made, and how well it has been locally marketed ?
</snip>

If you look at the Alexa site, you can see the statistics:
Worldcat: http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/worldcat.org
Yesterday 0.022 +10% (they had a good day yesterday)
7 day 0.0177 -3%
1 month 0.0164 +1%
3 month 0.0164 -7%

Therefore, about 0.016% of searches go to Worldcat.

Compare to LibraryThing:
http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/librarything.com
Yesterday 0.018 -30%
7 day 0.0254 -0.7%
1 month 0.0259 -8%
3 month 0.0277 -1%

Therefore, LibraryThing has a much higher percentage of use than Worldcat. (0.027%)

Compare to Wikipedia:
http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/wikipedia.org
Yesterday 12.51 -5.3%
7 day 12.97 +0.2%
1 month 12.975 -0.09%
3 month 12.748 +13.77%

Wikipedia gets a major number of hits.

Based on these statistics (which have remained pretty constant) it would make sense to conclude that a record placed into WorldCat will make it available to the least number of people. Placing it in LibraryThing or Wikipedia would increase its use. The conclusion I make from this is that while we can go ahead and put our records into WorldCat, we shouldn't expect too much. We need other routes as well.

Perhaps this is unfortunate or sad, but it is a fact nevertheless. What about when we add Google Scholar and Google Books into the equation? A friend of mine at FAO of the UN mentioned that they had recently placed the AGRIS database (an agricultural database) into Google Scholar and the hits went up exponentially. This only makes sense.

<snip>
May well, but library-centric focus in itself needn't -- witness my experience, but also in principle -- disqualify an instrument as enduser-appropriate and enduser-used, at least in a full-blown academic environment. Other factors can play determinant roles.
</snip>

Agreed, but products that are objectively better die every day if you can't get people to use them. Libraries have their collections and these collections need to be used, so I don't care how people find out about my materials. I can suggest certain ways, but if people want to use their own methods, that's fine with me. This is the world that is changing in fundamental, and as yet, very unclear ways.

What is important is to save libraries (in whatever form they take) and the values of librarianship. We should not confuse this with maintaining "OCLC" and/or "WorldCat." Either one of these entities could disappear and libraries should be able to continue.

<snip>
Perhaps -- but what will then be left of librarianship after they have been really solved ? Of course, once *all* of the librarianship problems have been solved ( i.e. from the perspective of those outside parties who alone ( can ) lend the field its legitimacy ), librarianship will not exist, or at least need to exist. Shouldn't your consolation ( as an apologist/advocate ) be predicated on the thought that not all of those problems will ever be solved ?
</snip>

Interesting question. I think there will be many solutions, but no "ultimate solution." As soon as one "solution" is implemented, a dozen more will arise. When you solve these dozen, your original solution will have to be rethought.

Some may consider this to be the very essence of futility, but to me, it represents the idea of progress. As new ideas and capabilities arise, you must adapt yourself to them. Just as the card catalog solved a myriad of problems, and created a host of others, we are in a similar situation today. The various ways of producing, and even using, cards evolved, and so will the methods we devise.


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