Friday, October 22, 2010

RE: WorldCat Knowledge Base to Provide Full-Text Access to OA e-books and Articles

Posting to NGC4LIB
Eric Lease Morgan wrote:
On Oct 21, 2010, at 7:41 PM, B.G. Sloan wrote:
> "In what appears to be an expansion of its Direct Request for Articles project, OCLC announced the launch of its WorldCat knowledge base, through which it will be providing one-click access to open-access full-text ebooks and articles in WorldCat Local search results." --
From the article:
The WorldCat knowledge base includes material from large open-access journal sources, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals, PubMed Central, and BioOne, as well as freely available content from the HathiTrust digital repository and the Internet Archive. Notably, open-access material from licensed platforms, such as Elsevier, Wiley, Springer, and Nature Publishing Group will be accessible.
This is exactly the sort of thing I've been advocating for quite a while. Based on the content of one's existing catalog (and therefore one's local collection development policy), crawl and harvest content from the Web, mirror it locally, update the local catalog to point to the locally harvested content, index it, and provide services against the result. Such a process addresses many of the traditional library activities (collection, preservation, organization, and dissemination) and manifests them in the current digital milieu. The library profession does not need (nor require) a for-profit company (or any other third party) to do this for us.
Yes. The technical problems should not be that difficult today, and it has always interested me why this hasn't happened long before. Somewhere I read that the real problems are with the quality of the metadata. Perhaps this article: "But both agreed that to advance the service; to provide the improvements needed to make the data more uniform, e.g., reconciling alternative data formats;..." Of course, dealing with variations in data formats is a huge issue, but there is also even greater variation within the data itself, e.g. forms of names. Both of these issues are solvable in various ways, e.g. some kind of crosswalks, and URIs with shared concept servers.

But you mention the local catalog, and it seems obvious to me that the purpose and even the very idea of a "local" catalog will have to change in some way as more and more digital resources become available since people can/will be able to "obtain" these new resources with a click of a button (to use FRBR terminology), and therefore will be easier to get than the items on our shelves. Not any less important, these new items will be far easier for people to manipulate than ever before. Of course, much of this is premised on some sort of decent portable digital reader, which may be here already.

It will be interesting to see how this develops.

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