|OBS OCLC COMMITTEE|
George Washington University Law Library
Year 2000 Concerns
OCLC has published several articles on Y2K concerns in its OCLC newsletter, most notably in the March/April 1998 issue. I found an informative and well-organized FAQ published on the OCLC homepage http://www.oclc.org/oclc/faqs/y2k/toc.htm. The FAQ discusses the history of the problem and breaks down the systems involved into specific components affected, including OCLC’s facilities (badge readers, sprinkler systems, etc.); internal management information systems (e.g., financial and human resources reports); administrative systems (such as payroll and benefits); and, most importantly to its member libraries, OCLC’s products and services. To give you an idea of the extent of the project, OCLC must recompile and reinstall some 24,000 programs and some 7 million lines of code. OCLC plans to complete its software changes by mid-1999 and to continue testing through the fall of 1999. Systems planners are operating under the assumption that unforeseen problems will crop up and are therefore developing contingency and problem resolution plans. In general, the most drastic change that users will encounter will be the visual representation of dates from two-digit to four-digit years. For example, Dec. 31, 1999 now notated as 991231 will look like 19991231 after implementation. These changes will appear on online system displays, in offline reports, and in printed products. As these changes are implemented, member libraries will receive notification through OCLC’s Technical Bulletin.
Although OCLC is doing everything possible to ensure that they will be Y2K compliant well in advance of 2000, they wish to stress that each institution needs to assess its own Year 2000 requirements, making sure that compatibility exists between their respective systems and any external systems with which they exchange electronic data. I, for one, am more confident in my library’s Y2K compliance than I am that the basic necessities, such as electricity and phone service, will be available for those computers on that cold, fateful Jan. 1, 2000!
Fixed Field Changes
Several changes pertinent to law libraries were discussed in Technical Bulletin 227. In the fixed fields for books format, the following codes have been added to CONT (nature of contents): j (patent document); m (theses); z (treaties). In the serials format, the following codes have been added to CONT and EntW (nature of entire work): m (theses), z (treaties).
TYPE (type of record) has been redefined for code m (computer files) in all formats. Code m indicates that the content of the record is for the following classes of electronic resources: computer software (including programs, games, fonts), numeric data, computer-oriented multimedia, online systems or services. For these classes of materials, if there is a significant aspect that causes it to fall into another TYPE category, code for that significant aspect (e.g., a CDROM issued in a serial format would be coded as a serial). Other classes of electronic resources are coded for their most significant aspect (e.g., language material, graphic, cartographic material, sound, music, moving image). In case of doubt, or if the most significant aspect cannot be determined, consider the item a computer file. Guidelines can be found at http://www.oclc.org/oclc/cataloging/type.htm .
Contents Note Editing Capability
Because contents notes (505) can be quite lengthy, typographical errors are not uncommon. According to the October 1998 issue of Bits and Pieces, OCLC users with authorization level Full and above now have the ability to lock and replace records in order to edit contents notes. Users have already had the capability to enrich bibliographic records by adding contents notes to records without them. In either case, a Database Enrichment credit will be given to the institution when that institution’s OCLC symbol does not already appear in the 040 field.
Electronic Availability of Technical Bulletins
Technical bulletins are automatically sent to OCLC member libraries as they become available; they can also be accessed electronically in several ways:
On Oct. 21, 1998, representatives of OCLC and WLN announced their intention to merge the two bibliographic utilities in the next year. Already the largest bibliographic utility, OCLC will expand its coverage of the Pacific Northwest by incorporating those WLN member libraries into its system. The WLN office will become an OCLC/ WLN Service Center, providing support and training to libraries in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. WLN has been well known for the high quality of its bibliographic records and will be a welcome addition to the OCLC family.
OCLC Libraries on the WWW
I always find gold mines on the OCLC Web site while doing research for my column. This time I discovered a list of the Web sites of OCLC libraries. It’s huge, but by no means exhaustive. In fact, I noticed a dearth of law libraries. Therefore, I charge all those who read this column (and whose library can be found on the Web) to fill out the electronic form http://www.oclc.org/oclc/forms/ocllib.htm. Let’s get our law libraries represented!