Friday, April 24th, 2009

OCLC news reactions

This post follows on The OCLC End Game, posted early this morning.

Library Journal‘s Josh Hadro did an excellent follow-up article. Besides citing this blog post, Hadro got responses from Carl Grant, president of Ex Libris on OCLC’s tenuous non-profit status—I’ll have another post about that soon—and a number of bloggers. Iris Jastram/Pegasus Librarian’s thoughts deserve quotation:

“I’m pleased that this is yet another competitor against the current lumbering giants in the ILS market, and I like the idea that (if I understand correctly) this will add a hosted option to the ILS market. … On the other hand, this means that that pesky new policy on the transfer and use of OCLC records really wasn’t just about protecting a bunch of member-produced data after all. There were bigger plans afoot, and these plans involved leaning even farther toward the vendor model rather than the service model. And if OCLC is a vendor rather than a service, that new policy feels even more like a land-grab rather than an effort to protect member investments.”

Ms. Jastram’s misgivings are comforting to me, at least, as her previous thoughts on the OCLC Policy were more mixed. Ultimately, the fate of OCLC’s Policy will be decided by the people in the middle—the fair-minded people, not the ones who equate OCLC with the Matrix, The Empire or the All Your Bases villain.*

The Smithsonian Libraries on the OCLC Policy. I missed this, but on April 2 the official blog of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries weighed in on the OCLC Policy and the ACRL/ARL response (PDF), “support[ing] the recommendations” emphasizing a number of points. Among these were:

  • “The policy should recognize and affirm traditional library values of cooperative cataloging and shared bibliographic information without any claim of ownership of the bibliographic records.”
  • “OCLC’s new policy should recognize, and not be in conflict with, existing legal obligations or requirements that may apply to some OCLC member libraries (such as federal libraries).”

It’s great to see a federal library making such a public statement. Having been passed by in the OCLC Policy discussion—Federal librarians have told me they were amazed OCLC thought it could unilaterally change licensing terms with government entities—and not included on the ARL/ACRL board either, at least one is lending its voice to the criticism. Hooray for them. James Smithson, who left his estate for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge”—and to a country he had never even visited!—would, I think, be proud.

*Chris Bourg left a comment to the effect that the AYBABTU reference was purely humorous, and she does not consider OCLC a villain, even if she thinks I’ve got a good argument. Now, can anyone think of a way to tape Jay Jordan saying “You have no chance to succeed make your time”? I’m thinking we could sky write it over OCLC headquarters in Dublin, OH and secretly film OCLC employees puzzling it out. Ideally, though, he’d need to wear the bionic monocle.

I will never run out of interesting Flickr chess images. This one’s by Shyald, from a series.

Labels: oclc, worldcat, worldcat local

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