Thursday, April 15, 2010

RE: [ACAT] WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative

Posting to Autocat

Allen Mullen wrote:

If OCLC hasn't adjusted their business model by then, they may sink or at least shrink alongside other aspects of the library metadata community. I kinda prefer not advocating for sinking them just now though.

This was a very interesting post that I mainly agree with, but on this part, I want to point out that I really agree: I very much want OCLC to survive and have more influence than it ever has, and I want libraries to do very, very well. But most of all, I want the librarians themselves to continue to go on and grow. The values of librarianship are openness, assuring people a sense of security because we respect their privacy and we are not just trying to extract as many dollars from their wallets as we can, and we genuinely strive to show a lack of bias in our professional relations so that we can help people know what is really available to them, no matter what our own moral or political or religious convictions may be.

I don't think this exists anywhere else on the web, which remains full of scams, propaganda, and superstitions. People seem to know enough now to be at least a little careful of what they see on the web, but I don't think the public is very aware about what librarians are. To them, we are just the people who stick labels on books and put them on shelves, more like clerks (as I have been told several times).

This would be one important role for OCLC and ALA for example: to try to change the public perception of librarians, not into people who are "hip and cool," but instead, show them as highly-trained and motivated professionals whom people can approach with trust. And they can trust us not because we are necessarily better people than anybody else, but because we follow our code of ethics.

But returning to the point, the records in each library's catalog belong to the library and not to OCLC and not to some nebulous "community."

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