|OBS OCLC COMMITTEE|
The Seattle conference is rapidly approaching, and I hope that many of you will be there. I am looking forward to some of my favorite things in Seattle—Ivar's restaurant on the waterfront, the bakery in the Pike Place Market, the University District and the University of Washington campus (my library school alma mater), and my favorite American League baseball team, the Seattle Mariners. There are two committee events I would like to highlight for Seattle.
OCLC Committee Open Discussion—Seattle
The OCLC Committee will meet on Sunday, July 13 from 11:45 to 1:15. Our guest speaker will be Mr. Rick Newell of OCLC's Western Service Center office. Mr. Newell will speak on what is new at OCLC and will be available for questions and discussion.
Connected to the Future: OCLC's Connexion
This program will be on Wednesday, July 16 from 1:45 to 2:15. Mr. Rick Newell will be the speaker at this program as well. This is one of the new 30 minute programs for this conference. With Connexion slated to completely replace Passport by the end of the year, and with the scheduled June release of the Windows client version of Connexion, this program should be very relevant to many of us. I hope to see many of you there.
Continued Developments with Connexion
OCLC continues to enhance Connexion, and the initial release of the Windows client interface is scheduled for June, 2003. Release 2 is still scheduled for the 3rd quarter of 2003, and release 3 later on (no definite date so far). OCLC's website contains a Connexion client preview at www.oclc.org/connexion/documentation/clientpreview. This document is very valuable in preparing us for the client and is something that we should all examine before the Seattle conference. The document contains an overview of the hardware and software require-ments, screen shots and descriptions of searching WorldCat, editing and creating records, and future enhance-ments. For all the latest up-to-date information about Connexion, go to OCLC's website at www.oclc.org/connexion.
In the March Bits and Pieces newsletter, OCLC announced that they were discontinuing the distribution of printed copies of the technical bulletins. Technical bulletins 248 and 249 were the first ones affected by this change. OCLC makes all current technical bulletins available on their website in both PDF and HTML formats at www.oclc.org/technicalbulletins/. In addition, OCLC announces the availability of new technical bulletins on three of their discussion lists: OCLC-Cat, DOCUpdate-l, and Techbul-l. As OCLC moves away from the distribution of printed documentation (making libraries go to the website and print it off), these lists are valuable for notification of new documentation. I subscribe to OCLC-Cat and DOC Update-l, and I recommend that all libraries at a minimum subscribe to the latter.
Of the two new technical bulletins, TB248 details changes to ILL, while TB249 contains numerous MARC format changes. At least one error was discovered by a user in TB249, and OCLC has issued a revision.
Autocat Discussion about OCLC and "Record Nabbing"
As I was preparing this column in late April, a discussion arose on Autocat concerning usage of OCLC-derived records by nonmember libraries. There was a presentation and discussion about this issue at the February 2003 Members Council meeting. The presentation was done by Gary Houk, OCLC Vice President of Cataloging and Metadata Services. The slides of his presentation are available at: www.oclc.org/oclc/uc/feb03/ppt/GaryHouk_NonMemberUseofRecords_files/frame.htm. OCLC's concern is for "record nabbing," which Houk defined as "the unauthorized downloading of OCLC member cataloging records from library OPAC's by all types of libraries from all corners of the world." So the idea is not the unauthorized use of OCLC records from WorldCat, but rather the unauthorized "nabbing" of OCLC-derived records in member libraries OPACs.
One characteristic of virtually any discussion of OCLC on Autocat is one of extreme hostility towards OCLC by some of the participants. This discussion was no exception. People took issue with OCLC's pricing as forcing libraries to engage in record nabbing. Many people questioned who really owns the records, if the records are under copyright protection, contract issues between OCLC and the library, and the like. Others slammed OCLC's non-profit status and how it evidently took a special act of the Ohio Legislature to maintain that status (having seen OCLC's facilities in Dublin, Ohio, I can attest to the fact that they are bringing in a lot of money). One individual even accused OCLC of being a Ponzi scheme.
In defense of OCLC, people pointed out that OCLC eliminates the need (usually) of searching multiple sources. The value of the resource sharing was cited by some people. Others pointed out that for the whole thing to work, OCLC had to have income. Finally some pointed out that this was just a discussion point in the Members Council meeting.
As I view this, I do not think that there is much OCLC can do about record nabbing. OCLC has a document titled "Guidelines for the Use and Transfer of OCLC-Derived Records (www.oclc.org/oclc/uc/3478.htm). The guidelines and background information in the document is well worth examining. However, the naïveté of some of the postings amazed me. A number of these people have probably never worked in the for-profit world. I agree that libraries are in the sharing business, but in order for us function with an efficient shared arrangement like OCLC, it needs to charge and make some money.
I was tempted to weigh in on Autocat concerning this issue, but then I decided to stay out of the discussion. What I wanted to say to Autocat was that we should not depend on the Members Council to represent our interests. The Members Council, in spite of its name, represents the interests of directors, not technical services. We need to make our views known on our own, because the Members Council will probably not do it for us.
I do want to urge you to come to our Committee's open discussion and the program on Connexion if you attend the conference in Seattle. I hope to see many of you there.
This is my final column as the chair of the OCLC Committee. It has been a pleasure researching and writing these columns for the past three years, and I look forward to reading my successor's columns.