Archive for the ‘OCLC’ Category


November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

On the OCLC-Cat list for November 2010 there have been several posts of interest. Let’s look at some, shall we?

First, let’s look at Wojciech Siemaszkiewicz’s “November 2010 Memorandum Against RDA Test” from November 2, 2010. In this post, Wojciech instructs OCLC:

Immediately suspend coding the test RDA records as acceptable records and recode them as substandard records with a code “RDA” (no PCC, LC, etc. coding should be allowed on these records). The encoding level for these records should be “K”, which usually triggers a full review of the record by highly trained technical assistants or professional catalogers. The LC records should be coded as level “7”. The RDA test records should be treated the same way as records coded with Spanish, French, German, etc. codes. This would allow catalogers to create parallel records for 040 English records according to existing and widely accepted AACR2 rules. Under no circumstances should RDA testers be allowed to create conflicting NAF or SAF records in LCNAF or LCSAF. This has already created a great deal of confusion and has been universally rejected by catalogers involved in the discussion.

We instruct agencies responsible for the RDA test to instruct its testers to follow above mentioned rules as a way to avoid workflow complications and growing confusion in libraries around the world.

We understand that the RDA test is just a test and in no way is an indicative to a future cataloging procedures and rules that would replace universally accepted AACR2 rules

Subsequent posts include a November 3, 2010 “Petition to support Wojciech’s memorandum” created by cataloging managers at Indiana University, Bloomington. The link to the petition is

The discussions on both threads have been fascinating. This culminates in a November 16, 2010 post “Update on the Petition to Support Memorandum on OCLC’s RDA Testing”. Another very interesting read.

On November 17, 2010 a post appeared cross-posted to several lists “US RDA Test and OCLC”. This does not directly address the Memorandum or Petition postings but certainly it seems to be aimed at them.

What I find interesting, in reading all of this, is that the idea is no duplications should be allowed in the OCLC database. I understand and applaud this. However (you knew that was coming, right?), why is it considered a duplication when we already have “parallel” records?

Parallel records? What’s that?? Check out OCLC Technical Bulletin 250: Parallel Records. Starting back in October 2003 OCLC began to allow “parallel records within WorldCat by language of cataloging”. Huh? OK, let me break this down for you. If I, in my little library in anywhere, USA, catalog the latest James Patterson using my AACR2 (or whatever) rules then add it to the OCLC database as the first bibliographic record ever to describe the book then it exists and others can use it, right? OK, now a few days (or weeks) later a cataloger in Spain catalogs that very same James Patterson book and also adds it to the OCLC database. Duplicate? NO!! Parallel record!

The key is the subfield b of the 040.  This is the “language of the cataloging”.  According to OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards:

Identifies the language for those portions of the record, which according to cataloging rules, appear in the language of the cataloging agency (e.g., notes). Subfield ‡b is in records created by libraries for which English is not the language of the cataloging agency.

Huh. So basically this is to accommodate the different rules and language of different countries.  Why then can we not have AACR2 records and RDA records?

Perhaps I’m missing something but that seems to be the same concept…or am I being blonde again?

Categories: aacr2, catalog, cataloging, OCLC, RDA Tags: , , ,

OCLC’s latest policy

April 14, 2010 2 comments

So, OCLC has released its new ‘WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative‘ and the list servs/blogosphere has gone quite mad about it. I discussed this a bit before in another blog entry, so look there for history or directly to the Code4lib wiki.  You can learn what people are saying RIGHT NOW on NG4LIB and AutoCat (AutoCat will require a login  4/24/10 update in the comments, Bryan!), read the LJ article, or various blog entries (Karen Coyle, Terry Reese, Talis, and even the OCLC blog).

It seems the biggest bugaboo about this is ‘does OCLC own the records or is the data free’? Words like Copyright are being invoked as well as collaboration and control. 

OCLC depends on the revenue generated by new and enhanced records – and not only the revenue of ‘selling’ access to the records but also in using the records to denote ownership of an item for resource sharing or ILL purposes. Their concern seems to be someone else taking all these records and re-packaging and re-selling to others without paying OCLC. Has this been a problem in the past? Not that I know of but times, they are a changin’ – in this webbie world of ours, new possibilities are popping up.

From the librarian point of view, THEY created the records and THEY enhanced the records and what’s wrong with sharing that information? Librarians love to share (except for chocolate, don’t even ask). Why can’t the data be free and all benefit from it?

Is OCLC an exclusive club? That is, if you are not a member you cannot get in the pool or use the towels? Given the nature of records and record sharing, how can OCLC really judge if a record began life with them but is being exploited elsewhere?  Seems like the music industry has had this issue with sampling.  When does the sample become a completely different entity and when is it the same (what do you think Vanilla Ice or Verve)?

It’s going to be an interesting ride…

Categories: OCLC Tags: , , ,

Reading OCLC’s Uncommon Dilemma

March 22, 2010 1 comment

I just finished reading OCLC’s Uncommon Dilemma by Barbara Fister published on Library March 18, 2010.

Barbara brings up some interesting points. But I think a bit of history may help in understanding.  First, what is  OCLC?   OCLC is a, hmm, Well. OCLC is…hmm.  That is a darn good question. 

Here is a brief, very brief, description of the origins of OCLC…OCLC started life as an Ohio Community College consortium back in the early 1970s (or was it the late 1960s?). They formed to share cataloging.  This was just after Library of Congress developed the MARC format. The rest of the cataloging world took note as to what these community colleges were doing and wanted in on the wealth of records.  The consortium said sure but only if you organize yourselves into regions for us to deal with (rather than deal with all those libraries individually).  So regions were formed and life went forward – multitudes of catalogers created and edited records. The records were shared and records were marked for ‘holdings’ thus resource sharing began (or rather continued but in a more automated manner). Time marched on, the world changed and last year OCLC stopped requiring the regional interface – libraries now can go directly to OCLC for all services.  Nowadays OCLC is the major distributor of MARC records and the only place I know of with resource sharing on such a large scale.  [and yes, there is way more to all of this]

OK, so what is this “WorldCat“?  This is the database (mega database) of the cataloging records created by and for librarians and maintained by OCLC. It contains millions of MARC records with kajillions* of  ‘holdings’ noted (that is, which library in the world owns what item as represented in that MARC record). Of course, it is not comprehensive since in order for your holdings to be so marked you have to be a member of OCLC. Also, not all libraries will list all their holdings in OCLC (for various reasons that I might discuss in a separate post someday). However, it is the largest database out there with this type of information.

Fine. What is the “Uncommon Dilemma” then?  Again I have to start with a bit of history – A bit over a year ago OCLC revised their “Guidelines for the Use and Transfer of OCLC-Derived Records” to become their “Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat® Records”.  A huge bruhaha ensued.  You can read the background and the fall out here – including the commentary that occurred on AutoCat list serv.  On March 2, 2010, OCLC announced a new draft policy that will be

submitted to the Board of Trustees for distribution to Global and Regional Councils in April 2010. During April and May the Council will incorporate member input, and a new proposed policy will be submitted to the Board of Trustees at the end of May 2010.

I suspect a great deal of discussion will hit the lists and blogs as soon as it is released. Especially since Larry Alford’s essay “The Value of the OCLC Cooperative” seems to be a prequel to this policy (and one of the catalysts to Barbara’s article).

So, the “dilemma” is how should these records, created by catalogers to be used by catalogers and stored in the membership-only service of OCLC’s WorldCat, should be utilized.  Should anybody be able to use these records, even if they do not subscribe to OCLC? What about a company getting these records and re-selling them? Or what about only non-profit organizations using these records even if they do not pay OCLC? What about records that initially come from government organizations such as the Library of Congress? Once the records are ingested to WorldCat, do they then ‘belong’ to the cooperative? Or can non-members use the records so long as they do not get the record straight from OCLC?

Whew. Now back to Barbara’s article OCLC’s Uncommon Dilemma.  Her main point seems to be that the world business model has changed and sharing does not negate the value of the product but rather enhances it (using examples from Open Library and Wikipedia). She compares OCLC to other non-profit organizations, looking at the funding as well as the salaries and workforce. She examines the way OCLC has traditionally done business and how business models have changed in recent years. She looks at the dichotomy of the “openly shared” resources available only to members.  Barbara makes some excellent points – she is looking at this in a way I haven’t seen on other blogs/lists to date. Again, really interesting points. I hope you read it. Please do.

Oh, and this might all someday be a moot point given what Diane Hillmann and Karen Coyle and many others are talking about with regards to “records”.

* note, I made the ‘kajillions’ part up, I don’t know how many libraries have noted their holdings but I know it is higher than I can count.

Categories: OCLC Tags: , , , ,