Greetings! Karin Den Bleyker has completed her splendid stint as OCLC Committee Chair, and I have succeeded to the honor. At long last here's my first column, which hopefully disproves the saying "Brevity is the soul of wit." If you find your interest lagging, you can skip to the last item, but please give it some thought. Here are the most recent hot (and semi-hot) OCLC developments.
OCLC announced that it was making the following name changes, effective Jan. 1, 1997: What we call "OLUC" or the "OCLC online union catalog," or a permutation thereof, is now to be called "WorldCat, the OCLC Online Union Catalog' on first reference and "WorldCat" on second reference." The terms "PRISM" or "PRISM service" are replaced by just "OCLC." (Whew! No more trying to explain to bemused staff the difference between PRISM and Passport).
Desktop and Related Developments
As Microsoft moves closer to a 32-bit operating system and a common communications interface for Windows 95 and Windows NT, it has simultaneously ended its development of the DOS operating system. Therefore, OCLC will continue its support for Passport for DOS only until around January 1998. Nor will Windows 3.X be supported much longer. Instead, OCLC will concentrate on developing new software applications for Microsoft's 32 bit-operating system environments, Windows 95, and Windows NT. To minimize the risk of hardware obsolescence over the next three to five years, OCLC strongly recommends that in 1997 libraries budget for the following minimum workstation requirements: Pentium based system, 32 MB RAM memory, IGB hard disk, CD-ROM drive, SVGA or higher-resolution display adapter, Microsoft mouse or compatible pointing device, [and] Windows 95. An economical option is OCLC's M5100 workstation, which is being offered for $1380, a recent price reduction of $610.
OCLC currently offers dial access, multi-drop line, the X.25 Telecommunications Linking Program (TLP) and the Internet. During the next three to five years, OCLC plans to phase out the first three options, and replace them with two alternatives employing the industry standard TCP/IP protocol: dedicated access and dial access TCP/IP. Both of these new options will offer access to all OCLC online services, and support graphics and file transfer protocol (FTP). Dedicated access TCP/IP will operate over high-speed (56kbps and above) links between the user and OCLC via OCLC's telecommunications carrier. Initially it will employ Frame Relay protocol; dial access TCP/IP will operate over Point-to-Point (PPP) protocol. Both access methods will switch to other higher speed underlying technology as user needs require. As OCLC and its telecommunications carrier will be managing this network, its reliability, diagnostics, and support are expected to be far superior to the Internet, though the Internet will still be offered as a third access option. (For more information on either of the above topics, see the cover story in the Nov./Dec. OCLC newsletter, and also SUNY/OCLC's January 1997 Status line).
Beginning in July 1997, all interested non-tapeloading cataloging members will be offered a new option for pricing, called Fixed fee pricing. Based on an average derived from the last 36 months of the library's OCLC use (both charges and credits), the fixed fee price will be billed in 12 equal monthly installments (July through June). It includes cataloging usage, but not ILL, Union listing activity, telecommunications costs, or any Reference services' activities. Each qualifying OCLC library will receive a fixed fee quote by mail in March 1997. Libraries wishing to try out this new pricing option for the 1997/98 fiscal year should send the required form back to their networks by June 10, 1997. It is not necessary to make a long-term commitment to the new pricing option. Near the end of every OCLC fiscal year each library will have the option of choosing the fixed-fee pricing or the per-billable transaction method for the following fiscal year. Those institutions which can predict that they are going to have significantly higher cataloging activity during a particular period (such as during a RECON project), might choose Fixed-fee pricing for that period, and then switch back to the per-billable transaction method. Those libraries which expect to be doing their normal amount of cataloging during a particular period, but higher percentages of original cataloging or of enhancing/upgrading of WorldCat, might want to keep with per-transaction billing.
Export Record Changes
Since Jan. 19, 1997, a slightly different message appears on the screen, when you export a record from OCLC to your local system. The message now reads "Record exported in USMARC," rather than just "Record exported." This changed message appears because OCLC has been working on software which will convert bibliographic records from the USMARC format to the UNIMARC format and vice versa. Later in 1997, OCLC plans to add an option to export bibliographic records via the UNIMARC format.
New Reference Service
In mid November 1996, OCLC added a "Support Home Page," easily accessed by clicking on the "Support" icon on OCLC's Home Page. This home page provides information on the status of OCLC online systems, a FAQ file on OCLC products and services, an e-mail address for OCLC support staff, and links to all OCLC-affiliated U.S. regional networks' Web sites. It is intended to provide the user with an alternative to telephone support. About the same time, the "OCLC Passport for Windows Home Page" made its debut
It features areas for "OCLC macro language, FAQs, articles, tips, ordering information, support, other sites related to Passport, and more." OCLC's Web site has links to the new "SUN/OCLC Network Home Page," introduced in fall 1996:
I can also highly recommend to all OCLC users the Network's monthly technical newsletter, Status Line. Each issue normally contains sections entitled General information, Collections and technical services, Communications and access, and Reference services. Access is also provided to another useful publication The Net Homesteader, a bi-monthly electronic periodical review of Internet resources.
Additional Highlights of the OCLC Web
The OCLC Participating Institutions List has an online version
This list can be searched by institution name, OCLC symbol, city, state and country, and also by other searchable fields. A recent enhancement made in late December 1996 is the ability to limit a search to ILL fee management participants only. This Web version is updated on a weekly basis, compared to twice a year for the printed list. A participating institutions list change request is also available at the same address. If you're looking for OCLC symbols of libraries in a particular geographic area, go to: "Custom holdings search for OCLC symbols."
Latest news releases are provided at
or click on the "News" icon on OCLC's Home Page. Another good source for current news is OCLC's monthly Bits and Pieces:
More substantive articles on current issues of interest are given in the bimonthly OCLC Newsletter:
By clicking on the "Documentation and forms" icon on the OCLC Home Page, you can access online versions of: OCLC's Technical Bulletin, the new edition of Bibliographic Formats and Standards, the 3rd ed. of Concise Input Standards, the Master Enhance List, OCLC-MARC code lists, and extensive FirstSearch and EPIC documentation. Having struggled with Z39.50 problems, I found the FirstSearch via Z39.50 Configuration Guide particularly helpful. FirstSearch Databases Notebook provides a list of all FirstSearch databases, with basic searching and searching tips given for each database.
New Reference Service
OCLC's "FirstSearch Electronic Collections Online" is scheduled for release in the second quarter of 1997. Libraries will be able to remotely access large collections of "scholarly" journals through the Web. The idea behind the service is for each publisher to offer electronic subscriptions for as many of its journals as possible. By mid January 1997 nine publishers had signed agreements with OCLC to offer more than 260 journals electronically to libraries. Within a year of the product release, roughly 500 journals are expected to be available. By centralizing information storage and access, OCLC expects participating libraries to realize significant cost savings. Other benefits include: Online access to a large number of journals, high quality page representation (Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF)), ability to do cross- journal searching and browsing, permanent archiving of older issues by OCLC, and availability of OCLC usage statistics reports for institutional subscribers. This service is intended to complement the full-text offerings currently available through FirstSearch. OCLC plans to eventually integrate the two services. According to Andrea Keyhani of OCLC (e-mail 1-21-97), OCLC is interested in expanding access to include legal publishers. If there is a particular publication any of you wishes to be made available online, you can let Andrea know (email@example.com).
Since the last OCLC column, the following databases have been added to FirstSearch: July 1996: RILM abstracts of music literature and the CINAHL database (nursing and allied health); November 1996: Business & industry, "a multi-industry, international database of industry, market, company, and product information from leading business publications"; December 1996- : The World Almanac and Book of Facts, and, most recently, the New York Times database (full- text of articles published in the last 90 days, and abstracts and indexes published since January 1994). The World Book Encyclopedia is expected to be added in early 1997.
On September 22, 1996 FirstSearch added three major enhancement:
» For full-text databases, there is now "one-click access" to the full text of an article from the brief record list . For the full-text icon to appear, however, the full-text option must first be turned on in the FirstSearch Administrative module.
» The copyright and search screens are now consolidated so that a user can begin searching immediately after selecting a database.
» In the NetFirst database, a new browser allows users to search by going up to three levels deep into a subject hierarchy based on the Dewey Decimal system. Searches are counted only when a user requests to see records. If no record exists in a particular category, topic, or subtopic, then that particular area will not appear on the browse list. I have tried out this enhancement and it seems like a great way to look for Internet resources, at least until all worthwhile Internet resources are cataloged. (A topic which I will discuss in my next TSLL column).
OCLC has begun a pilot project with the Academic Book Center, Yankee Peddler, and three member libraries to enhance the PromptCat service, which currently provides automated copy cataloging for materials on order with vendors. In May 1997, OCLC plans to introduce a new option in which libraries will receive shelf-ready materials or materials along with an electronic file of labels, if they prefer, and OCLC-MARC records with holdings already set. As of early 1997, fourteen vendors had signed agreements with OCLC to participate in the PromptCat service.
Vendor-supplied CIP Upgrade Project
Yankee Book Peddler became the first batch participant in this project when OCLC loaded the first file of its records on Jan. 7, 1997. Yankee catalogers are allowed to upgrade any CIP records to full-level (Encoding level "blank"), but are not allowed to change any records already upgraded to that level by the Library of Congress, National Level Enhance participants, or OCLC's CIP Upgrade Service. (OCLC's CIP service is done through OCLC TechPro catalogers stationed at Academic Book Center in Portland, Oregon). For an example of a Yankee-upgraded record, see OCLC #35001782.
OCLC introduced this service in August 1996. It offers automatic delivery of records upgraded to full-level OCLC-MARC for which the library has attached holdings. Records are sent to libraries via tape-load, EDX (Electronic Data Exchange), or through the OCLC Bib Notification file. This service will be offered to libraries free of charge through June 30, 1997. (For more information, see Technical Bulletin 218).
Formerly known as PromptSelect, this service "allows an online bibliographic record containing order instructions to be passed electronically from a selector to acquisitions and finally into the local system order record" (OCLC news release announcing the inauguration of the new service on July 19, 1996). Users can choose either a menu or a command interface. Selection databases are currently R.R. Bowker's Books in Print and WorldCat. Three major foreign language book vendors have added their records to WorldCat for this service: February 1996, Casilini Libri (Italian); May 1996, Puvill Libros (Latin American); and, in January 1997, Iberbook International (Spanish). Vendor records are standard MARC records, except for a local 938 field that contains vendor specific ordering information. Each vendor's records may be retrieved through use of the Vendor keyword (vn) index, which searches the 938 subfields $a (full vendor name) and $b (OCLC assigned vendor code: "CASA", "PUVL", and "IBER" for the three vendors mentioned above). It is recommended that the "vn" index be combined with at least one other index to avoid exceeding the system limits for displaying search results.
EUR-OP Resource File
OCLC has been further enriched by the addition of the EUR-OP Resource File. "EUR-OP" is the Office for Official Publications of the European Community. The file includes publications in eleven languages, with emphasis on European Union developments in a variety of fields. It is accessed by logging on with any valid OCLC authorization number, and entering the command cho europ <F11>. Although only keyword searching is supported, several of these indexes are for bound phrases such as author, title, subject, meeting. Any of these records may be used for cataloging through the derive command. Detailed instructions are given in OCLC's Technical Bulletin 219. Our library receives its fair share of European Community publications (at least from a cataloger's perspective!), but we rarely have to do any original cataloging for these titles. I'd be interested in hearing from any of you who have found this file to be a useful resource.
Product Services Menu (PSM)
A second edition of the OCLC Product Services User Guide has recently been issued, available in paper and on the Web:
For the benefit of those who haven't used this part of the system, as I hadn't until the new guide arrived, the guide defines PSM as, "An online service that provides product support information and file transfer capabilities for all OCLC users." Instructions are given for both manual and automatic logon procedures, using all standard current means of access. It is first necessary to logon manually, and then download whichever "Passport script for product services" is appropriate for the library's method of accessing OCLC. In the "Passport Setup" directory, select the "Edit" menu, and under the "Script file parameters" option, add an authorization number, password, and any other necessary parameters, dependent on access method. After saving the changes, you can log on to this part of the system automatically in the future. In early 1997, the Product Services Menu provided six basic options: 1 and 2. File retrieval and file submittal (used primarily for OCLC fee-based services such as PromptCat, Bib notification, OCLC Select, PRISM usage stats, etc.); 3. Passport automatic logon scripts; 4. Passport for Windows macros (Both user & OCLC supplied); 5. Software updates; 6. Support of OCLC products & services. Having the logon scripts available online is certainly a great advantage over having them only available on diskette. Option 6 provides a great deal of useful information: Dial access CompuServe phone numbers, extensive FAQs, an option to "Ask UNS a question," OCLC regional network contact information, and an online version of the Product Services Menu User Guide. The "Ask UNS a question" option thus constitutes a third method of contacting OCLC, in addition to telephone and the Web. (See above description of OCLC's new Support Home Page). Under the FAQs option, seventeen topics were listed. I especially liked the FAQs section on telecommunications. It certainly beat the OCLC troubleshooting guide I prepared for local consumption!
If I were to summarize my opinion of the Product Services Menu, I'd say first of all that it is essential for those libraries which need to retrieve or send files to OCLC. For the rest of us, it appears to be a useful addition, especially the availability of automatic logon scripts and macros. The FAQs are useful, but if one is paying for connect time, it seems better to get the information from the Web or from written documentation. Another consideration is that it is not possible to switch from another system, such as Cataloging or ILL, directly to PSM without logging off one system and then logging on the other. For instance, while in the Cataloging system, I can switch to ILL by using the command "Sys ILL." However, if I type "SYS PSM," I can't access the Product Services Menu. The system responds with the message, "The reason you can't switch from another subsystem to PSM or vice versa, is because WorldCat and PSM are on different machines." I tried out the "Ask UNS a question" feature via PSM and received a response 48 hours later.
ILL ME for Windows
In mid-January. 1997, OCLC released its "Interlibrary Loan Micro Enhancer for Windows" software, which is supposed to offer all the functionality of its DOS counterpart, plus the added perks of the Windows environment. The DOS-based ILL ME Plus will be supported only through November 1997. "Sample OCLC ILL ME for Windows data files" are available at
For more information, refer to the January 14 news release available on the Web, or contact either Judith Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nita Dean (email@example.com).
OCLC Meeting in Baltimore: During last year's meeting in Indianapolis, we discussed possible topics for the Baltimore Committee meeting. At the time, the preference was for a speaker on Passport for Windows. Many of you by now are probably quite familiar with PP4W, and might prefer to hear a different topic or topics discussed. Some other possible topics : The OCLC Authority Control Service; OCLC and PCC (The Program for Cooperative Cataloging); PURLS, Webpacs, and the InterCat; WebZ, Z39.50, and SiteSearch; the Internationalization of WorldCat; or a general OCLC update session. I realize that most of the above topics reflect my particular interests, so please send me your suggestions about what you'd like to hear!