Thursday, April 8, 2010

RE: WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative

Posting to Autocat concerning the WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative—DRAFT

There are two main points that struck me:

1) This all has to do with "Worldcat data" and I still don't see a definition of it. The closest is:

"In connection with Agent's performance of the services specified in this Agreement (the "Services") for Library, Library has made or will make available to Agent copies of bibliographic data, library holdings and/or other information representing Library's own holdings extracted from WorldCat, the online database of such information maintained by OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. ("OCLC") and its members (hereinafter "WorldCat Data")."

I still don't know what this means. If I download a record through regular Z39.50 and not through OCLC, but the record has an 040 of:

|a CtY |c CtY |d MH |d DLC |d AIP |d NST |d AIP |d NST |d NSDP |d NST |d MH |d NST |d DLC |d NST |d InU |d DLC |d NST |d MH |d FU |d MiU |d NSDP |d WaU |d MiU |d OCoLC |d CU-S |d DLC |d OCoLC

Is this record "WorldCat data"? If so, why does OCoLC trump Yale and LC and Harvard and everybody else? It still seems as if OCLC is claiming ownership over records because they travel over their wires.

2) In Section D. WorldCat's Viability and Value, and the Need for a Policy, there is:

"If the database does not receive the continued organizational support of OCLC members, there is a very real danger that it will become fragmented and lose its integrity, that its quality will be diminished, and that, consequently, its utility to the OCLC cooperative will be reduced."

I don't know what "integrity" means here, while the quality of the records has already diminished and is diminishing as we speak. In any case, the concept of "quality" needs to be reconsidered in an environment that is truly networked, the environment we are entering now. For quite some time there have been records cataloged in languages other than English in Worldcat, with subjects and description in all kinds of languages. This seems to be a loss of integrity and/or quality, or something!

But more important is the concern that the database will become "fragmented." I ask: First, is this such a bad thing, and second, is it inevitable anyway? Web2.0 and 3.0 are founded on the concept of each individual being able to personalize her or her "virtual space," and fragmentation becomes an essential part of that.

The policy is a noble effort by all concerned, but it still seems as if OCLC is claiming ownership over the individual records in the database, and also they seem to be drawing a line in the sand: we will change up to this point, but no more.

I think we need flexibility.

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