|Permission to Speak!||
School of Law
My favorite television show is the BBC series, "Dadís Army." Set in the fictional town of Walmington-on-Sea (on the English Channel), the show details the exploits of a unit of the British Home Guard during World War II. The unit is a motley crew of individuals, including the manager of the local bank and several of his employees, the local undertaker (who is Scottish), the local black marketer (who is a Cockney), and a variety of others. The lance corporal of the unit is Jack Jones, the local butcher in his 70ís, and a veteran of numerous military campaigns when he was much younger. Whenever Jones wants to say something, he always asks the captain for "permission to speak, sir." So, in the spirit of Corporal Jones and Dadís Army, I ask for permission to speak.
Less than two months ago (as I write this), I was laboring over some corporate body authority records, thinking about my library systemís conversion from NOTIS to Sirsi, and looking forward to the upcoming conference in Philadelphia and my trip afterwards to Gettysburg. Suddenly, out of the blue, an e-mail arrived from Ellen McGrath asking me if I was interested in becoming the chair of the OCLC/WLN Committee. Ellen has a way of being very persuasive-she quoted from what I had said on the OBS survey about how membership on the OCLC/WLN Committee was one of the most important benefits I receive from OBS. There was no denying that I said that. So here I am, faced with the daunting task of following Susan Chinoransky. A high standard has been set for these columns by the past chairs of this committee. I hope to continue that high standard over the next two years.
In some ways, it is appropriate for me that this is the OCLC/WLN Committee. I attended the University of Washington Graduate School of Library and Information Science from 1986 to 1988. Although the University of Washington Libraries were on OCLC (except for the Law Library), the instruction in the library school cataloging classes was focused on WLN. Consequently, I learned WLN before OCLC. Upon my graduation from the University of Washington, I came to the Indiana University Law Library in Bloomington, an OCLC library since 1977. So I have experienced both systems, although I know a great deal more about OCLC than WLN.
2000 Annual Meeting - Philadelphia
The OCLC/WLN Committee met in Philadelphia on July 17th. Our guest speaker was Meryl Cinnamon, the manager of OCLC services for PALINET. Her presentation highlighted a variety of significant developments, both in OCLC reference services and technical services.
New First Search- She reported that OCLC had begun the transition to the new version of First Search. The transition had to be completed by August 20th. Of interest to law libraries is the availability of the Wilson Select Plus database, with full-text articles linked to the citations.
OCLC WebExpress- This service provides a single, customized Web interface to different databases. A demo is available on the OCLC Web site. An alternative to WebExpress is SiteSearch, which gives a library even more control and sophistication, but is more expensive.
Collections and Technical Services--
CatExpress- This was one product Ms. Cinnamon sought to highlight, and which seemed to generate the most interest. This is a Web-based cataloging interface designed for smaller libraries who do 1000-2000 copy-cataloging records per year. Current OCLC members are able to use it as well as a cataloging interface on the OCLC Web site. The cost is the same as regular OCLC, but there is no access to the authority file.
CORC- The other significant development for technical services that Ms. Cinnamon highlighted was CORC. As of July 1st, CORC became available to all users with OCLC full-level cataloging authorizations except for CatExpress and OCLC Cataloging agents. Pricing is similar to regular OCLC. According to Technical Bulletin 239, CORC "began as an OCLC research project to explore ways to apply the cooperative cataloging model used to build WorldCat to the Web," and it "is the foundation of the next generation of OCLC cataloging services." The bulletin goes on to say that "CORC is a Web-accessible set of automated cataloging tools and databases designed as an integrated platform to allow libraries to create records that describe electronic resources." Technical Bulletin 239 provides a basic overview of CORC. In addition, there is much more information on OCLCís Web site.
As I was preparing this column, an intense discussion arose on AUTOCAT concerning CORC. It began when a librarian asked a question concerning fixed fields in CatME. In his note thanking others for their replies, this librarian stated that he had heard rumors that OCLC was planning on eliminating Passport and CatME, converting libraries to CORC. That started a flood of messages from people on both sides and in the middle of the issue. Many were people who attended the OCLC-sponsored CORC sessions at ALA and had actually used CORC. Opinions ranged from the assertion that CORC is "Marc-light" since it is based on the Dublin Core with only 15 elements, with the result that it is "cheap cataloging." Others took a more middle of the road view, believing that both Marc and CORC have a place in the cataloging world. Still others thought that Marc was out-of-date and that CORC represents the future direction of cataloging. The discussion continued unabated for nearly two weeks and at one point reached the level of people exchanging ideas of possible alternatives to OCLC. CORC clearly concerns many catalogers and other technical services librarians on a variety of core issues.
This discussion on AUTOCAT was interesting in revealing the views many catalogers and technical services managers have concerning the World Wide Web and the future of Marc and cataloging. The suggestion that Marc could be on the way out touched a nerve with many catalogers. Is CORC going to replace the current system? Are our jobs as catalogers going to be reduced to simple data entry by CORC if many of the description rules are actually eliminated? I do not know the answers, and I doubt that any of us really know what is going to happen. However, I am certain that CORC is going to continue to grow and develop, and since it is now available to all of us, I believe that it behooves us as OCLC customers and users to be familiar with the interface.
Meryl Cinnamon made the point at the meeting in Philadelphia, and one in which I concur, to check the OCLC Web site frequently for updates and announcements. For example, with CORC, there is a list of frequently asked questions, lists of participates, Powerpoint presentations from the ALA conference, and complete documentation for downloading. Another important source is Bits and Pieces, which OCLC bills as their "Electronic support news for OCLC users." This is issued monthly on the Web site and is an excellent source of information and developments. It is located at http://www.oclc.org/oclc/menu/bit.htm.
I thank you for granting me permission to speak. Feel free to contact me with comments and/or suggestions.